"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Monday, October 31, 2011


my hands hold safely to my dreams
clutching tightly not one has fallen
so many years i've shapen each one
will you take them away forever,
or can i dream again?

"surrender, surrender"
you whisper gently.
you say i will be free.
i know but can't you see
my dreams are me.
- from Barlow Girl's Surrender

I've always had these great notions of "dreaming big," of spending my life on something bigger than myself.  Here I find myself pursuing yet another one of those things.  Along the way, however, I've picked up more than I can chew, I think.  There are things I dream of doing and being that seem entirely unrelated and I find myself time and time again surrendering them to the Lord.

Each time I think I've found a way to fulfill them, I am reminded yet again that I cannot possibly do so on my own.
No, my life is not my own; my dreams are not my own; my plans are not my own.
They come from a greater God who designs each step.  He is the one who gives us life, who gives us purpose, who takes every move we make and gives it meaning.
And yet we so easily forget.  I so easily forget.

Lord, help us surrender even our deepest longings to you.  Help me not to fear that those dreams will be taken away, but instead made better by your grace and power.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It's hard, that whole forgiveness thing.

Forgetting the event seems so much easier.
Brushing it off means that you don't have to take responsibility for anything.
Clinging to the hurt, on the other hand, says that you don't have to address it, and you resign yourself to living with it hanging over your head.

Living in bondage.
That's what happens when you don't forgive.
It's pretty miserable.

It feels like something is weighing you down.
And it comes back to bite you in the butt.

The freedom that comes with forgiveness must be incredible.
But how do you get to a place where you're ready for it?
Is it a decision you make to forgive?
Is it a gradual process that ends with forgiveness?
Is it a gift granted by God, the readiness to forgive?

He forgave us of everything.  Of the worst of the worst.
We are redeemed.

So why can I not forgive after so many years?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


noun; plural -ties
1.  distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.
2.  Psychiatry.  a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.

It's pretty common, I think, to be anxious.  The mind races, the heart flutters, and the stomach turns over.  The situation is different for each person, though.  For some, public speaking causes anxiety.  For others, uncomfortable situations.  Still others experience anxiety when remembering past events.

For me?  It's playing piano in front of people who I don't feel entirely comfortable with.  It's being in a big group of people who are all talking at the same time.  It's overwhelming for me and I do whatever I can to remove myself from the situation.

This happened this weekend.  I was playing piano when some friends came to pick me up.  They wanted to hear me play, so I obliged.  I began to play a song and I froze.  My mind was racing so fast that my fingers couldn't touch the right keys and my eyes fluttered across the music, not even perceiving the notes written on the page.

My question is:  why?
Why do I get anxious?  Where does it come from, and why does it only affect me in certain situations?

Amy tells me that it comes from fear.  Fear of what, though?  Of people?  Of what they'll think?
I think I'm pretty self-conscious of how I play piano.  That I find it to be crucial to one's perception of me.  If I can't play piano well, then one's view of me may change.  And that's not truth.  Seriously.  Why would anyone's like or dislike of me change based on my ability to play the piano?  And yet that's what I allow myself to believe.  This fear causes anxiety.

That must be why I only like to play piano when it's by myself.  When it's for my own enjoyment and therapeutic benefit.  It helps me to process and to de-stress.

One time I played for a while with a friend listening and it was fine.  I think it's because I was so comfortable with her already, and then I eventually forgot she was even there.  I'm not fearful around her to be myself; I'm not fearful to make mistakes; and I know that her perception of me wouldn't change based on how I played.  Sigh.  Then why am I so fearful of others?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, present your requests to God."
Let this truth sink in.  Why do we live in spirits of fear when we serve a God who can calm any storm, who "casts out all fear"?

"We are not given a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

changing seasons.

There's something really beautiful about fall.

The leaves changing, the winds blowing.
Rocking chairs and knitting, hot tea and sweaters.
It's a pretty spectacular transformation.

I know fall is supposed to be about death.  About the leaves dying and falling, the animals hibernating, the plants dying, etc.  But what if this is only the appearance of death?
To the naked eye, the changing of fall into winter looks like all of life dying or hiding away while the weather becomes cold and people, too, hide away for the season.  Appearance is not always reality.  In fact, a tree sheds its leaves and stores its energy inside so that it will survive the harsh winter, so that it can produce new buds in the Spring and still be strong.

What appears to be a season of death and decay is, instead, a season of hidden change, one of collecting, of preserving, of pondering through the scarcity, awaiting the coming life of Spring.

Maybe this is what happens in our own lives too.  When it looks and feels like you're in a metaphorical spiritual desert, perhaps that is when it is most important and most valuable to look into your nutrient storage.  (Yes, I am fully aware of the ridiculous verbiage I am using..)  Seriously, though... When it feels like God is far away, look into what you know to be true.  Focus on the character of God; on His faithfulness, His goodness, His sovereignty.  Look at the knowledge and faith that have built up over time and allow them to simmer within you, to keep you nourished and faithful through those "desert" times.

Let us welcome this transition into Winter with hearts searching for the good, for growth, even amidst the apparent barrenness of this season.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Once upon a time, I learned about a thing called triggers.
Triggers  are small things, memories, perhaps, that bring up attitudes and behaviors in current situations reflective of that past event or person.

I have triggers.
One of which manifested itself last week.  I didn't realize it at the time (as if anyone would...), but in forcing myself to continue to process, I was able to navigate through memories that pretty significantly affected my emotional response.

Who would have thought that something I experienced six years ago would come back to affect me so strongly?  And yet it did.

A friend told me to just get over it.  To let it go.  To not let it affect me anymore.  His intentions were good, but I think we make ourselves do just that - push it down, let the past stay in the past.  When we do so, however, we hurt ourselves even more profoundly.  It prevents us from really dealing with the event, which leaves it sitting in the back of my mind for me to address years later after it has steeped in regret and disappointment.

I think that's what it is - disappointment.  I'm disappointed in myself.  I allowed myself to be manipulated in the same way a second time.  This situation triggered an emotional response reflective of that of five years ago, and the process of figuring that out took nearly a week.

For that week, I was a wreck.  When people asked me how I was doing, I would crack.  If "the situation" was mentioned, I couldn't hold myself together.  I cried several times a day for five days because I couldn't make sense of it.  I couldn't make sense of the tears, the situation, any of it.  Only in allowing myself to feel that way was I able to give myself the time and space necessary to figure it out.

We serve a patient God and yet I am sometimes so unwilling to be patient with myself.  I expect myself to be able to adjust, to be able to process so quickly and it's just not a reasonable expectation.  We must be patient with ourselves.

I'm still not there yet.
Much is left to be learned from this, and I refuse to shove it aside for the sake of easing my mind.

Friday, October 7, 2011

finding meaning.

Trauma happens.
Emotional strain happens.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.
Sometimes it's necessary.
Sometimes it really is for the best.

Always these things are hard.

Knowing that it happens doesn't make it any easier to deal with.   Minimizing our experiences does ourselves and our memory an injustice.

But then what does it look like to process well?  To remember rightly my own actions and those of the other?

Remembering involves more than just me and my thoughts, but it means giving justice to the other.  It means finding clarity.

I fight to find meaning in every situation.  Even the situations that are hardest.

Maybe that's why it has been so hard to process this particular incident.  Perhaps I'm trying to find profundity in a situation that has none; some meaning in a circumstance that was merely chaos.  Perhaps.
Or perhaps I need to keep fighting to process well.  To not push it aside, but to pray for clarity and understanding amidst the overwhelming thoughts.

There is a bigger picture, with or without immediate understanding.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Several months ago, nights like this would have left me crying.
Now?  Nothing.

It isn't a lack of emotion; no, I've certainly maintained the depth to which things affect me when they are important.  Instead, it stems from an inner strength, I think.

When people are upset, they say things they don't mean.  When they are angry, they treat others in a way that denigrates the other and dishonors themselves.  Words can cut deep if you let them.

I've found that when the girls are upset with me, it's because I've somehow taken control away from them.  Like asking them to come inside for various reasons.  Suddenly they don't have control over where they can be, and it makes them uncomfortable.  Or if I ask them to actually do their homework during study hall, they no longer have the option of talking to their roommates or sitting in the living room, instead having to do the one thing I asked them to do.

These seemingly simple requests mean a whole lot more to people who have just had to leave everything and everyone they know.  There's not a whole lot they can control anymore, so they cling to the small pieces that they have left.

But we all do that, don't we?  When the chaos of this place makes me crazy, I cling a little bit more to the power I do have over the schedule, over privileges, over.. small things.  It helps me to cope with things.

Maybe in the small things it's okay, but to try to have control over our entire lives means absconding with the very sovereignty God has over it all.  He is the one who knows everything; He is the one who controls everything; He is the one who loves over everything and has each moment of our lives worked out according to His purpose.  Let us walk in a manner worth of the calling we have received and we will desire to serve the Lord in those little moments where all we long for is control.  Let us learn to trust you, Lord.