In My Dreams

dreams

Follow your dreams…unlock the dreams of your heart…dare to dream…reach your dreams…live your dreams…I have a dream…

Have you ever really thought about the word dream? It holds promise…hope for something of the future. It unleashes a wild imagining. It is fantasy not yet a reality.

In my case, I have felt an anxiousness during some dreams to stay asleep to see the outcome…to hold on and not feel disappointed when awake…searching for answers. Then, there is the creepy deja vu moment where you speak the words you know you have heard before and the story playing out before you as reality is all too familiar. Sadly, I often dream dreams that are reminders of the sin in my past.

God created us and therefore He must have created in us the ability to dream–both hoping for something in the future and seeing a story in our sleep. I believe that God has perfect timing. My dreams of my past have prompted me to have such angst that I had to seek a closer walk with Jesus. I had to trust Him to show me the way. His way spoke of repentance and being bold enough to seek forgiveness and also forgive. The dreams have served as warnings to beware of trouble or danger. Sometimes, they are so vivid.

Last night, I had such a dream where I attended a meeting. The place was odd, the people in attendance were even stranger, the topic is something I am looking forward to this week and made it seem real. As the dream advanced, there were refreshments after the meeting and I had feelings…awkward and distancing myself from the crowd, ignoring the encouragement to eat, I wandered away thinking about the season and time…why is it summer and we were celebrating a New Year? I came to the top of a set of wooden steps and paused to fix my sandal and as I looked up, a man was walking up the steps toward me. Not just any man…this man is the one I had hurt and I felt my own hurt rush over me. He smiled and I stood still, suddenly feeling very self conscious. I smiled as I realized that I was no longer an insecure young woman. I looked him in the eye and saw him as created by God. This man’s purpose in my life stood before me and I was thankful for the pain because I came to know Jesus so much more. We talked about small stuff but underlying such conversation was the fact that forgiveness was present and God reigns in the past, present, and future.  I got the distinct impression that there was even more purpose in the present because we both had overcome Satan’s lies and sought healing from our Savior.

As I remember my dream today, my heart is warm and I know I can be strong no matter what I face because God is with me. I prayed for the man to hold Christ closer to his heart and for him to know God’s will in his life…to take courage in the healing and forgiveness. Lastly, I smile as I discovered that my past doesn’t define who I am…God defines who I am.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Isaiah 30:15b

Today I am focusing on the scripture: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15b (NIV)

A friend of mine recently told me of how stressed she felt. She described arguments with her husband and the way her heart and spirit felt was unsettling. It was then that she realized that she had not repented for awhile. She went to the Lord in prayer and felt calm. The way she described the calm and the length of time it lasted is something only she can do. As I listened, I pondered when was the last time I repented or even asked God to reveal the areas of my life that need a check up. When I read the verse from Isaiah, I immediately knew its truth because repentance sets us free from the bond of sin. This brought a renewed salvation to my friend’s heart and soul. I learned to talk to God about my sin because I am a sinner and I need set free…I need saved.

“In…rest is your salvation…”–I did not recognize rest as my salvation but it definitely makes sense! About four months ago, I closed my eyes to take a rest and my heart felt fuller. I began to talk to God and this was the first time I recognized that resting in God’s arms is the place where He speaks. Yes, He speaks in other ways too. But this was special…just a “for me” moment. I smiled and felt so content…at peace. It is then that I am open to obedience and His gentle teaching. Those “Be Still” moments are the times that He molds me and I discover more of Him. The dreams that use to haunt me are ones that I have come to look forward to because He turns them into a lesson. I become in tune to His plan.

“…in quietness and trust is your strength.”  It would be very easy for me to jump to the word trust because I have a special God-given bond with that word but then I would miss part of the message. Quiet…I don’t typically remain quiet about much. I like to make my point and be heard. Even more appealing is when my words are taken seriously and maybe even influence. There have been times where I wish I had just been quiet. I don’t like the thought that I shouldn’t have said what I did. You can never take back words and words hold power to hurt. Unfortunately, I used them for more bad than good. I do feel that God has been changing me from the inside out. I guard my words more carefully…weighing them before I spit them out. In other words, I wait for His leading on what to say in tough circumstances (if I should address the situation at all) instead of jumping to make my point. He is also teaching me to talk when I would normally be reserved. For example, I invited my Jewish friend to a Bible study I am leading. I would never have done that before because it places me in a vulnerable place. Quiet also fits with rest. I love quietness to settle my thoughts and close my eyes.

Trust is the foundation to my renewed faith and God continues to show me something new everyday. I used to despise the word because I have been vulnerable and hurt before and I even thought that God had hurt me. I now understand that He is greater and more trustworthy than any other. The problem was me and actually my lack of trust. He has made me new and I know He will never forsake me.

On My Knees: A Quiet Prayer

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Father God,
I think of all the things that have happened in my life…situations that I got myself into, problems that I helped create, and issues that I or my loved ones have had to face. At first those things made me really angry and I stopped trusting you to provide anything good for me. On the surface, I was happy…going to church, involved in a ministry or two, and I even talked at you a lot. But I was empty. I wore a mask to hide my pain because I was ashamed. I see now that I really didn’t understand you and my lowest points helped me to see you for the very first time. From early on, I thought I knew you but you were this cosmic kill joy with a set of rules I had to follow. I thought you loved me but you allowed things to come into my life that hurt me. I thought I gave you my life and I thought I was functioning out of your will for my life but you allowed me to go my own way.
There are many things that I may never understand about you or why things have to be the way they are but you asked me to trust you and you set my feet on solid ground. You have pointed me to resources that help me to see that it isn’t about me. You don’t give me anything I can’t handle and yesterday’s problems…well, maybe they will help me to grow closer to you. I know that my past has made me rely on you. I praise you and thank you for showing me that I don’t need to do this life-thing on my own. I am so sorry for the times I have tried. I know I have been so stubborn but Lord, forgive me and keep showing me your way. You did not forsake me…you will never forsake me. I do love you and have given my heart and my life to you but I see now that each and every single day I need to give myself to you and be a willing vessel. You are the almighty God who knit me together, who placed me where I need to be, and there is no greater time than this to be your masterpiece…a new creation that fully relies and trusts in you and your ways. Your ways are so much greater.
Lord, help me to recognize that my life is in your hands especially when a problem or stressor arises. It is better to see you and focus on you than consistently worry about things that I have no control over. Help me to give you my burdens. With this in mind, I ask that you continue to work in my marriage and in my little girls. Show me my purpose in my teaching profession. I know I created added stress with getting a second job because schedules are tighter now but I know I am to be there too. You paved the way for me to be there in ways only you could orchestrate but things have been so hard lately…furnace dies, the car’s tire pressure is low and is an ongoing issue, colds and health issues arise, and I just don’t have the strength to face them without you. Help me to live in your grace and offer it to others too. Please be with my littlest one and bless her little heart. The tears I feel like crying refuse to come partly because I know the murmur that was just discovered can be healed by your hand and can be nothing. Give me peace as we wait for the cardiologist appointment. Be with me. Fill me. Help me. You are amazing and I feel you at work in my heart and mind…you calm the storm raging inside. I am reminded by the song “Not For a Moment” that “you were reaching through the storm, walking on the water, even when I could not see”. You hold my hand. You guide me. I know the storm is temporary and the lesson to be learned is so beyond any of my expectations. You work all things together for good. Help me to feel you. Let me rest knowing you are in control. Please show me if I need to change something and help me to trust you to handle the rest.
Thank you for being everything I need.
In Jesus’ holy name,
Amen.

Stressed-Less Living

Stressed-Less.

I honestly have had trouble saying the phrase Stressed-Less Living.

It is as if my tongue is numb and will not function. It gets twisted up in knots. At first, I laughed at myself and said “say that ten times fast!” Yet, when I began to consider what it would mean to be stressed-less it became very obvious that just like my inability to say it…well, I definitely have an inability to live it. I maybe sorta kinda ONLY sometimes create my own stressors or try to control those circumstances that can affect me. Okay, I really feel that I am a huge drama queen who ALWAYS creates my own stressors as if life circumstances aren’t enough! In other words, I am always stressing about something.

So, my goal for this Bible study is to really see how to live stressed-less… I am not setting my goal at stress-free but am eager to get to the point where my soul is free to trust God more fully. I hope to gain more insights into what God’s word says about stress and its related terms like anxiety, fear, etc. I would like to be a happier and healthier person. I get tired of the shoulder and neck pain, the sleepless nights, and the migraine headaches (which is most likely from eating too much chocolate due to high volumes of stress). I would like to learn how to stop letting the little and big things in life get me down or upset. I would like to stop letting the little things get so big! I would like to learn appropriate Biblical responses of how to handle the people in my life who stress me out. I really hate being snippy with people and have recently become fascinated by the way Jesus responded to the questions, the negative comments, the sly remarks, the traps, the denials and betrayals. Sometimes, it just helps to say His name and imagine the calmness of His voice…the gentleness of His eyes. That is how I long to be. I want to be filled with “the Jesus response”. 

As for why I chose this study, I would venture to say that this study chose me. I “stumbled” across the Online Bible Study three books ago and I can’t quit now. I am addicted to learning more about God. I am absolutely hooked on knowing more details about my Savior. I am fascinated by what is being done in my life as I grow in Him. It fills my life, my heart, my soul with something so good. Each study has done that and why stop now? Each topic thus far from grasping the Jesus glue to doing/being something greater to joining control freaks anonymous has led me on a journey that I just can’t turn away from. I would expect nothing less from Stressed-Less Living because God has a message to share and He has certainly chosen some amazing women at Proverbs 31 Ministries to help me hear Him speak!