Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the tag “dreams”

Readers are Leaders…Or are they?

I am rethinking one of my favorite sayings. “Leaders are readers.” Not all readers are leaders but I have never met a good leader who doesn’t read a lot. I have heard this a lot in the circles of church leadership development that I run in. And it is true, leaders are readers but I don’t believe it is in the way we think. When I hear this or say it myself, it gives people a sense that they must only read leadership or spiritual development books. And there are SO MANY books out there on leadership development. And I am reading a lot of them since I started working on my Masters of Strategic Leadership in July. I think what is meant when we say leaders are readers is that a characteristic of a good leader is someone who reads a lot of different types of books. It’s kind of like the age old question…what came first? The chicken or the egg? Does reading a lot make good leaders or do good leaders read? I think of reading as a characteristic of a good leader, not necessarily a prerequisite. Reading develops critical thinking and gives us different perspectives and expands our mind.

I love reading and writing.  I don’t just want to read about life, I actually want to live it and I don’t want to just write about life, I want to experience it. There is a balance in all things. I am trying to maintain a balance between reading, writing, and living (with school, reading is winning right now ;).

I have composed a list of my favorite books. I thought I would share and would love to hear some of your favorite books.

  1. The Bible – no book has changed my life like this has. It has shown me who God is, what He has done for me and how He wants me to live my life. I am in this book daily.
  2. Elie Wiesel’s Night. All of the books I had read on the holocaust before this book mentioned the atrocities of the concentration camps and loss of loved ones but always highlighted the hope and the good that came out of it. This book made me see the reality of the evil and terrible things that happened inside the concentration camps. I believe every high school student should read this. Mankind is capable of great evil. 9780553272536-us-300
  3. The Nancy Drew books -I know this sounds silly. Of all the books to be able to make it to the top 10, these make it? (I still have all the hardcover books.) I read them all multiple times as a kid/pre-teen. The hero of the story was a GIRL who could think  and solve problems on her own. She was also brave and independent. I was going through an exercise a few months back in a book I was reading and realized the significant impact these books had on me. I could be the heroine of my own life.
  4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. He is my favorite author. This is the first book I read after I became a Christian besides the Bible. He impacted me profoundly. I discovered Christians do not have to check their brain at the door. Christianity really is a thinking person’s religion. Faith and the brain are compatible. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our MIND, and all of our strength. Lewis also introduced me to apologetics. 927275-_uy200_
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I try to read this series every couple of years. He was brilliant with apologetics, science fiction, and fiction. The allegories and spiritual truths portrayed in these books are phenomenal. I never get tired of reading these books. My favorite quotes come from them.
    1. “Aslan,” said Lucy. “You’re bigger.” “that is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?” “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” Prince Caspian
    2. All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever in which every chapter is better than the one before.  The Last Battle
    3. “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…” “come further up, come further in.”
    4. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you!” The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. img_0646bookbox2.jpg
  6.  How People Grow by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. This book has had more impact on me in my ministry and view of how people grow spiritually than any other book I have read. The one issue as a pastor I have always struggled with is why do some people really get what it means to follow Jesus and live a full, productive, joyful life while others remain stuck. This was life to me.yhst-20550167876698_2167_8150648
  7. Risk is Right by John Piper. His teaching on the supremacy of God and finding satisfaction in God that leads to joy have deeply impacted me. In this short pamphlet, Mr. Piper teaches on taking risks and Romans 8. So good. I have probably bought and given away 20+ copies of this book.4369a1167ecd879969b6075e83738285
  8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I am a romantic at heart. This may surprise many but it is true. A couple of summers ago, I read through every book Jane Austen wrote. I loved every single one of them though this will always be my favorite. prideprejudice423x630
  9. Love Does by Bob Goff. I read this book about two years ago. It is a story of an ordinary man and how he chooses to live his life actually loving people instead of just talking about it. He lives such a BIG life. This book set into motion a lot of things for me. I took some risks and made some changes. I also became a stalker of his and got him to speak on a conference call to a WIML group I was helping lead at the time. I have bought this book over 10 times to give away. 41sigmrxqal-_sy344_bo1204203200_
  10. Winds of War/War and Remembrance by Hermann Wouk. He also wrote The Caine Mutiny but these are the two books of his that I absolutely loved. He wrote them in the 70s. I read them both in the mid-80s as a teenager. The first book is about the lead up to World War 2 (I love history). The sequel is about the war, the holocaust (which is why he said he wrote the book),  and the birth of Israel as a nation. These books have stuck with me since then. f0bbdcc0bdd0cb5c04d9c5302f6c08ce
  11. Honorable Mention: These next two books I have read in the past year and have made me think. Time will tell if they remain in my top 12. I think they will. The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. This book is mom and son e-mailing back and forth getting to know one another later in life. It made me wish I could have known my mom better. And there is a quote that has resonated with me. It is Gloria who writes it. She says                                                                                         “I find it reassuring knowing the rainbow comes and goes. It helps me accept the way things often are. In every life, you have moments of blinding beauty and happiness, and then you land in a dark cave and there is no  color, no sky. Then the rainbow returns, sometimes only briefly, but it always does come back. You have to believe that it will, even in the darkest of times. That belief is what is really important. Nothing is meant to last forever. Our lives are fleeting. We surround ourselves with objects, collect things, try to hold on to people and money and status, but it doesn’t last. We are not meant always to be happy, and who would want to be? Happiness would become meaningless if it were a constant state. If you accept that, then you will not be surprised when something bad occurs, you will not gnash your teeth and ask, “Why me? Why has this happened to me?” It has happened to you because that is the nature of things. No one escapes. The rainbow comes and goes. Enjoy it while it lasts. Don’t be surprised by its departure, and rejoice when it returns. There is much to be joyful about, so many different kinds of rainbows in one’s life: making love is an incredible rainbow, as is falling in love; knowing friendship; being able to really talk with someone who has a problem and say something that will help; waking up in the morning, looking out, and seeing a tree that has suddenly blossomed, like the one I have outside my window-what joy that brings. It may seem a small thing, but rainbows come in all sizes….the searching, that’s what I think life is really all about. Don’t you? 27859751
  12. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This book is so good. It is about a shepherd boy going on an adventure to find his personal legend (follow his dream). Such a powerful allegory with an incredible twist in the end. A personal legend is,               “It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend…There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 9780062315007_p0_v2_s192x300

So what are some of your favorite books?

 

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Keep Dreaming

“I dream a lot and I hope one day some of them come true.” Journal entry from June 11, 1986 by 16-year-old Heidi.

This weekend I am speaking at a youth winter camp. I am excited and nervous. The theme of the camp is “Encounter”. I will be speaking from Ephesians 2. The first evening I will be sharing my story of when I first encountered Jesus. As I was preparing,  I dug out my old journals. I spent an afternoon revisiting my 14, 15, and 16-year-old self. It was very enlightening, sad, encouraging, and funny all at the same time.

I read of my first concert to see Bruce Springsteen at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. I read of heartbreak from unrequited love and drama with my friends (there is NOTHING new under the sun). I read of the turmoil in my home life. I read of my coming to Jesus and how He completely changed my life. I also read it was not as easy as I remember to follow Him. I watched my life as a follower of Jesus unfold. I teared up at the pain of some of the friendships and things I lost. I swelled with pride as I watched a completely unchurched girl persevere and make tough decisions to follow hard after Jesus. It definitely was not pretty or graceful or perfect but it was real and honest and raw and full of love for Jesus.

And on June 11th, 1986 in the midst of teenage angst,I penned these words: “I dream a lot and I hope one day some of them come true.” With the following Scripture “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” written after it.

Before this entry was an entry of concern for my dad’s health, below this entry was venting about my geometry and biology exam.

I wish I knew why 16-year-old Heidi wrote those words. What was she thinking in the midst of family stuff and high school exams?

There is a song by Rich Mullins called Home. It is one of my favorites. And I want it played at my funeral (many, many years from now 😉 . In it, he sings;

What I’d have settled for
You’ve blown so far away
What You brought me to
I thought I could not reach
And I came so close to giving up
But You never did give up on me

God has blown the dreams of a 16-year-old girl away. He has allowed me to do far above and beyond what I thought was possible.

I wish I could explain how important it is to dream. To take risks. To dare to believe life could be more than we think it could. To believe we can make a difference.

I wish people knew the dream giver…Jesus. And how He wants to help us reach for things so much bigger than us. And how life is meant to be lived fully.

Dreaming is important to me. I am currently looking for songs which speak of dreaming. I am printing out the lyrics as I come across them and am keeping them in the folder of a class I teach on helping others discover their purpose and dreams. There is in all of us a desire to do great things. It is God given.

I still dream. A lot. I still hope one day some of them will come true. I hope 56, 66, 76, and 86 year Heidi is still saying the same thing.

 

Risk Vs. Responsibility: Wrestling with God

When I began my blog I entitled it “FaithinFlipFlops” because I wanted to write about how I daily walk out my faith in Jesus Christ. I wanted to write about the successes and the challenges, the triumphs and the losses. I haven’t been as faithful in my writing as I hoped I would because life always seems to get in the way.  And I want to be a person who makes sure I am actually living life, not just writing about it. I also love taking pictures to include in my blogs (and I take a lot) but life is what happens between the snapshots. Living life to the fullest and taking risks is something I value and strive to do. I do not want to waste a minute!

I turned 45 in January. First of all, I love birthdays. And getting older does not bother me at all. In fact, the 40s have been my best decade by far. I have loved every minute of my 40s. Until 45. I can’t explain it. I wasn’t expecting it. And it irritated me. A sadness and tiredness overwhelmed me. I am someone who is always on the go. And it all came to a grinding halt.  And it made me question where I was in life.

I have always lived carefree. I never worried about money (not much anyway). I always trusted that God would provide. I have referred to myself as a hippie…I don’t need stuff or much money…and I love to dream.  And live unconventionally. After all, my dog’s name is Woodstock…

I remember in Bible college, a pastor came to speak in chapel. I was talking to him afterwards or heard him talking to someone else (I don’t quite remember the exact context) but he said “oh to be young again in ministry and think I can actually change the world.” After I heard that I told the Lord, “May I never get cynical and never stop believing that I can change the world.” And I haven’t. I still believe it. But that belief is hitting the stone cold wall of reality.

I have a dream. A big dream. And to make it come to pass it will require a sacrifice. And a miracle. And here is the question I am wrestling with in my walk with Jesus. When does following a dream and taking a risk become irresponsible? 

We have a saying at our church:

Jesus first

Others Second

Safety Third

We have it on one of the those rubber bracelets.

If you wear it on your wrist, is it true?

If you wear it on your wrist, is it true?

And I believe it. I believe we are not to play it safe. That we are to take risks to advance the Kingdom of God.

Yet there are bills to pay. Retirement to pay into. Taxes to pay. A house to buy. Health insurance to pay for. And a lot of these things, I’ve let slip because I believed God will provide.

I have since discovered that the tiredness and irritability were due to my thyroid not working right.

But the wrestling with risk taking vs. being responsible is still ongoing. I have followed Jesus long enough to trust Him. But there are times I simply don’t trust myself.

This walk of faith in flip flops is not easy. There are always more questions than answers. And it can be messy.

And messy reminded me of a Scripture in Proverbs 14:4. It says

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of an ox.”

I can have a nice, tidy life…every area clean and safe…but if I want a life that produces fruit and counts for eternity and really makes a difference — there will be messes I need to clean up (sometimes of my own making) — I will get dirty, messy – I need the “ox”(in my case the ox could be my dreams or the Holy Spirit’s leading and maybe they’re synonymous) and the work and faith that comes with it if I want to be fruitful.

 

 

Living Sensibly

I was going through my old journals this week. I started journaling when I was in middle school (though in middle school it was called writing in a diary). I have my very first one…Garfield the cat is on the cover and it had a lock and a key and everything. I was SO cool in middle school that I rated my days like Siskel and Ebert rated movies. Four star days were super-duper days. Those were the days I won money betting on the Cleveland Browns (if you could ever imagine winning on the Browns) and/or a cute boy noticed me. Three stars were great days, two stars were average, one star days were terrible, horrible, no good days. Days that you wanted to stay out-of-the-way of this raging, hormonal teen-ager. It’s kind of fun (and frightening) to see how middle school Heidi thought. (Sidenote…if I charged middle school Heidi a quarter for every time she swore, middle-aged Heidi would be financially set).Needless to say, I am so thankful Jesus got a hold of me in high school.

Middle School Diary. No words.

Middle School Diary. No words.

The reason I have been going through my journals is for research for a book I am writing. I have had a dream since I was a kid to write a book. I have mentioned in another blog how I wrote a 10 chapter book when I was 10 and had my mom type it for me. We sent it to a publisher. It was rejected.

In order for a dream to become a reality, it must be worked on and walked out. Dreams coming true just don’t happen over night. They usually come to pass with a lot of sweat and tears. The fulfillment of a dream requires a lot of hard work. Bruce says it so well in his song “Working On Dream”. (I can weave a Bruce Springsteen song into anything… 😉 )

Anyway…while I was going through some of my journals, I came across an entry from June 30th, 2003. It was my thoughts and reflections from reading the book of Titus in the Bible. I thought it was something I should put on my blog. So here it is.

Titus says in the second chapter that the grace of God has appeared to all men, bringing salvation. And that the grace of God instructs us (disciplines us) to 1. deny ungodliness and worldly desires and 2. live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.

I do not live sensibly in this present age. I do not spend my money sensibly, I do not use my time sensibly (2015 Heidi has made some headway in these areas).

What does it mean to live sensibly? I have always thought the word “sensible” means boring. Someone saying “She’s so sensible” is like saying “She’s so boring.” You always know what to expect. Routine. Predictable. Is that what it really means to live sensibly? What does it mean to live sensibly?

This is what I came up with.

Sensible living:

  1.  Do not live beyond your means.
  2.  Do not commit yourself to things you don’t have time to do.
  3. Do not make promises you cannot or may not be able to keep.
  4. “You can do anything, but not everything”. (I just added this tonight. I saw it on Facebook and it so resonated with me.

Is being sensible the opposite of risk taking? (I have always considered myself to be somewhat of a risk taker). Is taking a risk a bad thing? Is living safe living sensibly?

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Following God is not safe. It is full of risks and adventures.

So the conclusion I come to is that living sensibly according to God is not the same as living sensibly to the world. I live sensibly according to God’s ways so that I am set up to take the risks He puts in front of me when they come.

  • I can do to the mission field because I do not have debt holding me back.
  • I can say “yes” to the right risks because I am not suffering from physical ailments induced by stress because I am trying to do everything and over committing myself.
  • I can be trusted to do things that are risky because I follow through on whatever (no matter how small or mundane) is put before me because I am someone who keeps my word.

The point of this blog? Living sensibly sets us up to be risk takers.  Living sensibly isn’t so boring after all!

 

 

 

 

 

The Arts as Worship: God is a Creative God

A couple of nights ago, I finally had an evening to paint. Life has been crazy (good crazy) and the next four weeks will be pretty much the same. So I try to work in at least one night a week of painting. It has become my happy place. My extended time with God.

I painted two pictures that night. The first one was for someone I know who is battling cancer. For several weeks I felt the Lord leading me to paint a picture for this person and while I painted, I was to use the time to pray for healing. It was a very special time. Scriptures that came to mind as I prayed and painted, I jotted down on a note card. When I was finished with it, I turned it over and wrote the Scripture references on the back of the canvas. I took it with me to the women’s Bible study I lead on Fridays and had the ladies pray over it. I know that sounds strange  but I really know that God is in this. I mailed the painting to my friend on Friday afternoon.

After I was done with that, I just painted a picture. I had no plans, no ideas, no thoughts. I just put music on and painted.

It ended up being a very bright TV. As it took form, I thought about the things that I would want people to see about me if they were watching my life, the things that are important to who I am as a person.

The Cross of Christ was central. I want people to see Jesus in me. I want to please Jesus in everything that I do.

I painted an open book. I want to be authentic. With God and with others. Being real and setting an  atmosphere  for people to be honest with themselves  and God is important to me. This was so fresh to me because at my Tuesday night Bible study that week, we had an incredible time of study and prayer and it was because the ladies were so open and honest about where they were.  True growth and freedom comes from authenticity. If we would stop lying to ourselves about stuff, God could really move and transform our lives.

I had painted a smiley face because I want joy always to characterize my life (as well as righteousness and peace….after all those are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God).

I also painted a heart. I want to strive to be kind to people. Kindness is such a rare trait. I want to be remembered as a person who was kind. Kindness stands out like a shining light in a society where rudeness and disrespect is applauded and encouraged. (Turn on any news channel)

The last picture was a cloud with the title of Bruce Springsteen’s song, Dream Baby DreamI don’t care how old I get, I never want to stop dreaming big things for God. I always want to be reaching to accomplish something bigger than myself…something that I could never do by myself – that the fulfillment of the dream could only come t0 pass with God’s help. I want His dreams for my life to be my dreams. I want my dreams to always bring glory to God. And I never want to get stuck in the dreaming phase…I always want to act on those dreams that I have so I can see them come to pass so that God can give me even bigger dreams. In my spirit, I hear the Lord says always “Dream, Baby Dream”. (God uses Bruce’s music a lot to speak to me). 🙂 And God will still be saying it to me when I’m 90!!!

I love how God uses painting to bring things out of me. I am so  grateful that He is a creative God. I am thankful for the arts and how they point us to Him. There is nothing like listening to the music and lyrics of a song that evoke in us powerful feelings or a wonderfully written book that leaves me in wonder that words could create such a vivid picture in our imagination or a movie that inspires us to be better people and consider another point of view or a dance in which the person and the music become one and tell a story without any words or a painting that speaks to each person differently.

So grateful for the many ways God created for us to worship Him and communicate with another.

Dreams, Painting, and Prayer

I have taken up painting. And I cannot believe how much I love it! Last fall I went to one of those classes in which friends get together and paint a picture. I had a lot of fun doing it and it was so relaxing. So this year as I was goal setting, I decided I would try painting on my own. I have this driving desire to keep my brain fresh. (And I’m reading a fascinating book on the brain and how you can create new grooves and stimulate different parts of it. I have said it before and will state it again…I am a nerd). I believe you keep your brain fresh by trying and learning new things. So this year it is painting.

My painting from class

My painting from class

Painting last fall in a class.

Painting last fall in a class.

 

I was a little nervous about making any kind of investment because I was not very good in art class in school. I was one of those who thought they could not draw a straight line. I even singed my hair once with the kiln in middle school art class. I definitely do not have the fondest of memories of art class (except 8th grade art…Mrs. Coton rocked!) It is funny how many of the conclusions we draw about ourselves we make as kids and teenagers and never go back to examine if we really came to the right conclusion or not.

I had drawn the conclusion that I was not very creative. I have come to realize that was a faulty conclusion. How I decorate my house, my love for writing and reading are signs of my creativity. I remember having a conversation with some friends and I made the statement, “I’m not very good at decorating. I don’t have that creative gene.” My good friend, Lesli said, “Yes, you are. You have a theme and it is very unique.” I was comparing myself to Better Homes and Gardens and other home magazines.

On my birthday this year, I went to spend the afternoon with my mentor and some other ministry friends. My plan was once I left there I was going to go to the craft store and purchase the supplies I needed to get started. As I told them about my plans, they were so encouraging. Have you ever had someone in your life that makes you feel like you can do anything? Harriet is that person to me. I am so grateful for her. As the four of them prayed over me a blessing for my birthday, I just knew that God was doing something. It was a holy moment.

This was taken on my birthday at Bill and Harriet's house. A wonderful afternoon!

This was taken on my birthday at Bill and Harriet’s house. A wonderful afternoon!

My first painting I attempted was a picture/vision I had during worship a few years back. I had the vision several times and so one day, I drew it out in my office. I hung the piece of paper on my wall to remind me of what my walk with Jesus should look like. I thought “one day I am going to get someone to paint this for me.” Who knew that person would be me!

My first solo picture!

My first solo picture!

When I started my first painting, I put on worship music and began to paint. I was so nervous that I was going to mess up. As I kept painting, I began to feel free. I realized that I could not mess up. It was my painting, my creation…it could be anything I wanted it to be and any color I wanted it to be. There was no wrong way. One of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 2:10 – it says, “We are (I am) God’s workmanship (His poem, His work of art) created in Christ Jesus to do good works so that we would walk in them.” That verse explains my first painting exactly. As God paints the story of my life, I am to walk in the good works He has prepared for me to do, always with the Cross before me. It was such a moving experience for me.

AS I have started a blank canvas and seen it come to life, the pleasure I feel is indescribable. I feel like I have caught a glimpse of the heart of God and how He feels as He is painting the story of my life. As He sees His purposes and plans come to fruition in me, that pleases Him.

My second painting was for niece, Madison. She saw my first one and said she wanted me to do one for her. She loves frogs so I thought I would surprise her and do one. Again, I put on worship music and painted. I spent two hours praying for her. Praying that she would know that she is God’s workmanship, that He has purposes and plans for her, that she would know how much God loves her. When it was done, I signed it and put two Scriptures on it that came to mind as I painted.

My lovely niece with her picture.

My lovely niece with her picture.

My third painting I did was for one of my sisters. One of my favorite things I have is a rock she painted for me when I was 5 or 6. https://livinglovedlivingfree.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things/ I thought for her birthday I would paint the picture that is on the rock. The time I spent painting it I used to pray for her. I spent the time thanking God for her, praying that He would bless her and that she would continue to grow in the knowledge of how much He loves her. And I signed it and put Scriptures on it. And now I know that I will be painting intercessory prayer paintings for people in my life that I am praying for. All I want to do is paint. I have my 4th one sketched out but I can’t show it on here because the person receiving reads my blogs faithfully. And I want it to be a surprise.

the sketch

the sketch

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I love seeing a picture come to life!

 

The rock from my sister!

The rock from my sister!

 

The finished picture

The finished picture

I was thinking today what if I would have listened to my childhood/teen-ager self that said I was not artistic or that I couldn’t draw a straight line? What if I had been afraid to try? I would be missing out on something that brings me much joy. I also thought that most of the time we are our own worst dream busters. I would encourage you to try something new and do not let fear keep you from trying!

Nothing is Wasted

I have been getting coached for the past 6 months. I have had to look again at what my dreams are, what I value, what is important to me, dream busters, etc. Yesterday was our last conference call. We wrote our life’s mission statement. It has been a fun and challenging process.

At the same time, I have been leading Beth Moore’s Bible study, Believing God, with two different groups of women from my church. It has been one of the best Bible studies I have ever done. It has really challenged me in my walk with Jesus. I believe it has changed me. As part of the study, she makes you look back at your life and see how God has been at work in your life from the time you were born. We are now in the midst of creating timelines of our lives and recognizing how God has been with us, even in the not so good times. We have been doing this as we have studied the life of Joshua.

All of this reminded me of a seminar that I did back in 2000 called Focused Living. At the time I was living in Virginia and serving as the interim Senior Pastor. The District asked me if I was interested in permanently leading the church. The Pastor (my boss) had just stepped down. I honestly did not know if I wanted to senior pastor at that point in my life. So they sent me to this seminar. It was an intense two-day process of looking back at your life and the lessons you learned along the way. During this process I had to write a Personal Life Mission Statement. God used this process to show me that I was not called to senior pastor in that season. The process, though painful (I had to look at a lot of hard stuff I went through growing up), really did focus me.

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I came home a couple of weeks ago and pulled out the big poster of my life that I had to do during the Focused Living Seminar. It fit so well with what God was showing me through coaching and the Bible Study. On this poster, I had it broken up into segments. I was 30 when I did this and it fell into 3, 10 year segments. The first 10 years was entitled “Turmoil”, the second 10 years was entitled “Preparation” and the third 10 years was entitled “Gaining Experience”. And I had life events under each of them. Good and bad. I also had life lessons that I had learned through my experiences of my first 30 years of life. As I read them, I realized that I still live by the lessons I had learned to articulate in the Focused Living process.  The purpose of this blog is to share my life lessons of my first 30 years of life. I am 44 now. I feel strongly that God, through the coaching and the Bible study, is having me go through the same process that I went through with Focused Living 14 years ago. So I have been looking back at the past 14 years and identifying what has happened,  what God has been doing and what season of life I am in now, where He is leading me and the lessons have I learned. I shared some of this with my pastor and he asked me “What would I entitle the past 14 plus years since I last did this?” I was surprised that an answer quickly rolled off my tongue in response. I will share that in another blog.

Here are the 15 lessons I learned from my first 30 years of life:

life-lessons

  1. God will never leave me.
  2. God can take the ugliest things and situations and make something beautiful come out of it.
  3. Nothing is wasted if you allow God to bring healing.
  4. I learned to be faithful in ALL things (as a lay person, as a manager, and with my family).
  5. You can never ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself (leadership).
  6. People need to be treated with kindness and respect.
  7. I learned that false humility will keep me from reaching my full potential.
  8. When I say I can’t do something, I am limiting the power of God.
  9. I learned perseverance. When God calls you to do something – hold on and obey. It will come to pass.
  10. I learned to walk in forgiveness and let hurts and wrongs go quickly.
  11. Cracked pot vision – God shines through the broken areas of our lives.
  12. Anyone can fall. And people will let us down. It could happen to me so err on side of showing grace and compassion when people fall. Treat people how I would want to be treated if I fell.
  13. Jesus came to bring life. I should be enjoying the life He has given me and what He has called me to do.
  14. No matter if your heart is breaking, you serve God. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
  15. My health. I have one body to accomplish the good works God has prepared for me so I need to take of my soul, body, spirit and mind.

 

Oasis: Making Time to Sit on the Curb

The Dream

Back in March I blogged about Dreams. And how I felt God was calling me to surrender them at His feet. And I did.

A year and a half ago, I began to be coached by one of my mentors. Harriet is our District Supervisor and is one of the godliest women I have ever known. I have such a deep respect and admiration for her. It has been such an honor to be coached by her. This process has been a catalyst to amazing growth in my walk with God, in my leadership skills and in my confidence.

Pastor Harriet - mentor, friend, coach, district supervisor

Pastor Harriet – mentor, friend, coach, district supervisor

The last exercise she had me do was in regards to dreams. Funny how that works. I had to list 10 dreams/things I want to accomplish. It could be anything…professional dreams, spiritual dreams, recreational/hobby dreams, Family, etc. Basically – it was a Bucket List. (Sidenote: God has been so faithful to me. Within three weeks, two of my ten items on my bucket list have become a reality. One of the 10 on my Bucket List is to travel to Israel. And that is becoming a reality in the Spring! (See Israel). Through a process that she walked me through, I whittled it down to 2 out of the 10. From the 2, I had to choose 1 that she could coach me on to help me achieve it. The item on my list I chose was Oasis.

The list of my dreams...

The list of my dreams…

Let me explain my vision for Oasis. I have been in ministry for 16 years. I have been to countless conventions, retreats, and conferences. While I have gleaned many truths and skills from them, I always came away from them more tired than when I went. So much information was downloaded in a short period of time and a lot of talking was done AT me that I never had much time to process through some of the information. The times I was able to process was always at dinner or in our rooms afterwards where you could talk it out with friends. I hope this is making sense and that I am not coming across as critical. Conventions, retreats and conferences are important…I am in the midst of planning our Women’s Retreat now. But I always felt as a woman in ministry I needed something more.

One day I was reading in Scripture where Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt. They were tired in their journey and they came to some water and it was bitter. The Israelites began to complain. God had Moses throw wood in the water and the bitter water became sweet. They continued on their journey and soon came to Elim, which was a place that had 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. And it says in Scripture that they encamped there by the water. (Exodus 15:22 – 27). They did not stay there long because in the next chapter they set out again. As I read that portion, it struck me that women (and men) as they journey through life get tired. I don’t care how balanced you are, tiredness is inevitable. And chronic tiredness can lead to a whole myriad of problems (bitterness being the one identified in this particular story). And God, in the midst of their journey, provided for the Israelites, an oasis, a break from the journey. That is what I want our women’s ministry at our church to be, an oasis…a break from the routine, where women’s souls can be refreshed. And I thought of women like me who are in ministry. Who are constantly serving and pastoring people along with being a wife and a mom and a daughter, etc. The last thing we need is another conference telling us how to preach better or get more things done or become a better leader (and those conferences are important…we just don’t need one more). And I thought to the times that I was most refreshed….and it led to me being able to verbalize and plan my dream….

I live in the most beautiful place. Summer on the shores of Lake Erie is amazing! Weather is pretty much perfect. There is so much to do.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie

Vermilion River

Vermilion River

Proof I live in the most beautiful place :)

Proof I live in the most beautiful place 🙂

So a “what if” came to me…

WHAT IF I planned a women’s Oasis for a long weekend for 3 to 4 women at a time who are in ministry. A break, a respite from their normal, chaotic, amazing, busy lives. An oasis for refreshing in the midst of their journey. I would rent a cottage on the lake, have things planned but have a very relaxed schedule. I would let the women sleep in as late as they want. Do their devotions on the beach. Eat. Take naps. Reflect. And talk and talk. And pray together.

Oasis would exist to provide:

R:  efreshing

E:  ncouragement

S:  trengthening

T:  ogetherness

This was the dream I had. In my mind I thought it was kind of silly…only 3 or 4 women at a time. It did not seem economically feasible to me. Who would want to come (still struggle with that bit). When I presented it to Harriet, I expected some resistance (why I don’t know). She was so excited for me and helped me set action steps. I then presented it to my Pastor. I was apprehensive about sharing the dream with him simply because it was different and it was not really under my area of responsibilities at the church. Pastor Jim is an amazing man of God and a joy to work with. When I presented him with the vision, he was excited and pledged assistance to help this come to pass. It would not have come to pass and been as successful as it was if it were not for him. I am so blessed to work for a man who encourages his staff to dream and think outside the box. Looking back I don’t know why I was apprehensive. He has a heart for leaders, especially young leaders and invests in them. This fit the mission of our church perfectly!!!

The Reality

Two weekends ago, this dream God gave me became a reality. Two Bible college friends (Brenda and Stasia) from North Carolina came up for the first Oasis. I was nervous but God was so faithful. One of my friends who came is on staff at a church of 3,000 in Cornelius, NC. My other friend who came just started Senior pastoring with her husband for the first time 7 months ago. They were in different places in their journey with different responsibilities but both with the same need of refreshing.

We did a lot of talking (non-stop) and eating (almost non-stop) and relaxing. We prayed. We went to a Cleveland Indians game (someone asked Stasia what kind of women’s retreat goes to a baseball game…her reply “the kind Heidi plans.”) We went kayaking (Stasia is legally blind and for her to be able to kayak was an incredible treat for her. A young man in our church tied his kayak to hers so she could actually kayak and he just guided her. Awesome.)

We sat for hours on the beach.

Morning devotions

Morning devotions

Our home for the weekend

Our home for the weekend

At the Indians game with a young leader from my church!

At the Indians game with a young leader from my church!

Sitting on the  beach

Sitting on the beach

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Praying over Brenda and Stasia

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After dinner with Pastor Jim.

Stasia kayaking!

Stasia kayaking!

Dylon and Stasia leading the way down the river!

Dylon and Stasia leading the way down the river!

Dylon was Stasia guide for kayaking.

Dylon was Stasia guide for kayaking.

 

The Result

 I had prepared for the weekend and knew where we were headed and what I felt the end result was supposed to be but I had a hard time articulating it.

Over the weekend, many stories were shared. Triumphs and trials. Successes and failures.  Joys and pains. Lots and lots of laughter. And Stasia told a story that God really used to identify all that Oasis is meant to be.

Stasia is legally blind and has her own guide dog, Duncan. She also has a white cane to help her as she walks. She has to be one of the most courageous people I know. Her blindness does not slow her down at all! She walks her two sons to the bus stop in the morning. One day, she decided she didn’t need her cane or Duncan. She felt she had done it enough that she would be fine. After the boys got on the bus, she started walking home. She got turned around. Panic began to creep in. She took a deep breath and decided to sit on the curb to get her bearings. As she sat on the curb, she thought about where she had been, where she was currently and what she needed to do to get back home. When we prayed that last evening at the cottage, God brought that story back to my attention. That describes exactly what Oasis  was for us that weekend. We had spent the weekend sitting on the curb reflecting on where we all had been in life and in ministry, where we were now, and what we needed to do to get to where God was taking us. We all needed to leave some things at the curb that weekend. And we left refreshed, encouraged, and strengthened with the knowledge that we are all in this thing called life and ministry together. God is so good!!!

I am looking forward to many more Oasis’ in the future. We have even tossed around the idea of Oasis for men led by Pastor Jim.

Never give up on your dreams and ask God for big ones! Life is too short for regrets!

Surrendering Dreams…

Yesterday in church we sang an old song from the early 90’s called “Surrender”.

The lyrics are:

Holy Father as we stand before Your throne

As we look upon Your face

We confess Your matchless grace

Lord and Savior, we have nothing without You.

There is nothing we can do

But to serve and follow You

     And surrender (And surrender)

     To surrender (to surrender)

     All our dreams, all we are, all that we are to become

     All our love

I felt yesterday that I was to lay all my dreams once again at the feet of Jesus. And I have dreams. Big dreams. And the older I get, the bigger they seem to get. Some seem impossible, others make me seem arrogant…

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And as I surrendered them once again, I felt God assure me that the dreams I had were God-given dreams. And that I didn’t have to make them happen or fret. I just need to be faithful in all that He puts in front of me. And He gently reminded me that all of this is not about me. It is about Him and what He has called me to do to bring Him glory and honor. And that I am to simply live and embrace life — not always looking for the story, He will give me the story. I need to let Him fulfill the dreams and don’t be a Sarah and try to make them happen yourself.

And God has a way of driving the point home. Last night I watched the first part of the miniseries “The Bible”. In it, the story was told of God’s promise to Abraham and how he would be the father of many nations through his wife Sarah. The dream seemed impossible to Sarah due to her age and the fact that she was barren. And she wanted it to be true oh so badly! So she took matters into her own hands and made a mess of things…and innocent people got hurt in the process…

I am incredibly excited and nervous about the season of life I am in right now. I cling to God and His promise found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I will continue to dream big, to be faithful, and to trust that God will bring all things to pass. And I don’t have to make them happen.

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