Side Effects of Chasing Our Dreams

Chasing our dreams can be a thrilling, and frightening, experience. Months and years of preparation go into a product and then we put it on display for any and all who will partake. It’s a little misleading actually, because our daily lives aren’t finished products–only portions of our work are. So when people see or hear your product, they only see a portion of you; it is so easy for us all to fail to see people’s work as only a part of a whole and not a whole itself.

After launching Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale on Kickstarter and being a guest on the Read Aloud Revival Podcast (listen here), I can most certainly attest that finished products are one thing, daily life is another. The last two weeks have been thrilling and exhausting. As my husband and I seek to encourage others to add to their family through adoption and consider the orphan and children in foster care, it is a great time for spiritual warfare. For one example, without elaborating, the last two weeks have been extremely difficult in the parenting category for one of our children. Another example, we have had one case of the flu and one of strep throat the past week as well. You may also be pleased to know that laundry and home education didn’t take a vacation either.

However, one amazing side effect of launching a Kickstarter Campaign and putting myself out there so to speak, has been the effect on our two oldest children. When our children watch us attempt something that scares us, it encourages them to do the same. 

I recently read, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. One take away from this book was J.D.’s feeling of not having the inside information afforded to higher income families. Even after completing law school at an Ivy League School, he still felt like somewhat of a poser. He knew the hillbilly culture from which he hailed, but didn’t know what he didn’t know until embarrassment or experience taught him. For example, he didn’t know to wear nice shoes and a jacket to an interview instead of army boots and a tucked in shirt.

Sometimes, it can seem that way even if you don’t share J.D.’s cultural history nor broken family background. It may feel as if everyone else has an instruction manual that somehow you missed out on. Like there is a world-wide memo system that wasn’t afforded to you.

However, when our kids see us reaching for goals and dreams that make us uncomfortable, and for which we are on a significant learning curve, it’s like we are handing them that memo, that instruction manual—and they don’t even realize it. Our experiences while our children are in our homes becomes a continual testament to them about how life works. How trial and error, efforts and failures, all come together. Our pursuits, in ways we cannot see, inform them as to what is possible for them to attempt.

Last week, my two oldest children were working, by their own endeavors, to write books of their own. When my oldest son tells me, “I am going to publish my book. Remember how I was going to have you just type it out on the computer and print two copies off? Well now I want to publish it like your book mom.”  My oldest daughter turns to him and says, “How are you going to do that?” “Kickstarter!” he replies.

Kickstarter! That’s a word that I didn’t even know until January of this year. Now my 8-year-old son is plotting to publish his first book on Kickstarter.

Your dreams and current goals very likely look different from mine. That’s not important. The point is, that in reaching for your God-given dreams and goals, your are influencing and informing your children and your community. You are exemplifying what is possible when you push past comfort zones and fear, and that is a beautiful side effect.

 

 

Pre-Order My New Children’s Book on Kickstarter

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Of Mountain Grandeur Achieved with the Feet and in Faith

Mountain Grandeur

I grew up in a small Baptist church where hymn books were opened every Sunday morning and evening. When we were first dating, my husband often joked with me saying I knew every hymn by heart. Well, I may know the first and fourth stanzas, but the second and third ones are a little more of a reach.

Last year we went home to Alabama and attended my sister’s church. During the singing of one particular hymn, the second verse caught me by most pleasant surprise. The second verse to How Great Thou Art is probably one of the most skipped verses in all my hymn-singing upbringing.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

~How Great Thou Art, by Carl C. Boberg adapted by Stuart K. Hine

My soul feels most at peace when I am in awe of God’s creation.

I have sat at the base of a waterfall and heard the mighty rushing waters never ceasing. I’ve hiked in some of the most beautiful rock formations in America. I have paddled a kayak in the waters of the gulf and sat in observation of countless sunsets. In each of these settings the thoughts that are provoked are ones of worship of the Lord.

Ron Havasu Falls

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Family Hike

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Ukraine Pictures (64)

The last pictured mountain is part of the Carpathian Mountain Range in Ukraine; the same mountains that the writer Carl C. Boberg crossed while penning this famous hymn. Ron and I traveled there in 2006.

Today, as I think on this song and contemplate its meaning, I am reminded that not every day is a beautiful hike through the woods, a moment at the base of a waterfall, or a well worn, familiar path. Additionally, not ever journey is one we take with our feet; often our most perilous and life changing journeys are of the heart. 

In all surroundings, and all life’s seasons of wonder, wandering, and waiting, we have choices to make. On what will we focus? Will we choose contentment? Will we choose to approach the Father with gratitude, or grumbling? Will we look at things as they are and see the good, or will we look at situations as we want them to be and see only what is missing?

When considering my hiking memories, by far the fondest memories for me are those in which my inner worship matched the outer grandeur. I revel in the ones in which my thoughts were pure, prayer was on my spirit’s lips, my worship was vibrant, I was enjoying my companions or my solitude, and my thoughts were set on things above.

Certainly, my more favorable memories were when I was acting in the will of God. Faithfully trusting in His timing and abiding in His will. This is true on scaling the mountaintops, in the day in and day out of life’s demands, and  days spent in anticipation of dreams yet unrealized.

The difference in our singing lies with the heart and mind with which we approach the song. And so too how we live our lives: the difference lies with the heart and mind with which we approach all situations.

For myself, in the words of Robert Frost, I have “miles to go before I sleep.” A right attitude concerning patience in the face of uncertainty and long journeys of the heart presents a constant battle for me.

Today, if the battle for you seems like an insurmountable mountain vista, remember, every moutain has a peak and “that which is above knows that which is below, but that which is below does not know that which is above.” Keep climbing and worship with every step. And upon the descent remember this:

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.~ Rene Daumal

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Encouraging Our Children’s Dreams

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daddy and ee

I would love for this story to be about me, a mom who chose to encourage her child’s big dream, but it isn’t. This is a story about a little girl with a dream, and a daddy who chose to encourage her.

Each year, at Christmas, we allow the children to choose items from the Gospel for Asia’s (GFA) Christmas Catalog. They choose from gifts such as farm animals, warm blankets, gospel tracks, or even a water buffalo! Last Christmas, our daughter noticed the Jesus Well in the catalog and started asking questions. We explained to her how many people in the world don’t have access to clean water and that GFA builds wells for such people while simultaneously sharing the gospel.

She was hooked.

“I want to raise money to build a Jesus Well,” she declared. We explained that the cost for one well was one thousand dollars but encouraged her to start raising money if she was committed to the project. Please follow me over to iBelieve.com for the rest of the story. (Click here.)

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