Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Space to Dream

My heart pounded inside of me as I laid out my ideas, plain yet precious, for him to see.  It is the one room in this house I know he feels is mostly his.  My dream involved change, it dripped with adventure.  This plan and the details of it had been stirring inside me for a while.

I exhaled and waited.  Silence.  Then came the shake of the head, the no I knew was inevitable, yet in the moment of accepting his response, I knew I had no regrets. 

It does a heart good to dream.

Later, unexpectedly, he came to me and said, “I know I said no, but I’m really OK with it.  You spend a lot more time in there than me.  I like your idea.”  And just like that, I fell deeper in love with my guy in this small act of sacrifice.  But more than the giving up or the handing over was the shift in heart that I physically felt.  By stepping into my dream and acknowledging that it’s a good one, I felt like it might actually be possible.

We all need people to come stand beside as we dream. We need them to step over onto our side and tell us it could happen, even if it doesn’t.

Sometimes, I’m scared to dream, because I feel like I should be doing better, more important things.  Other times, I’m terrified of what I’ll do to my dream.  I have a horrible tendency to strap on expectations to my dreams, which always weigh them down, anchor them to the ground, and fail to give them the space they need to soar up into the place of Possible.

Expectations kill relationships and they box in dreams.

What I was thinking about as I went to sleep that night was not the details of carrying out my dream- a room uniquely me and a place for me to grow as a writer.  Surprisingly, my thoughts raced with possibility, with excitement, that the one I love thinks there’s a reason to dream this dream.  He believes in me, and I know that even if the dream never manifests, I am happier because I shared it with him, because dreams are meant to be shared. 


This morning I’m reading about how to live freely, how to live art every day.*  I am an artist with limits.  I write them down, one by one, and it doesn’t take me long to find a common thread.

Not enough time to write
Not enough money (or time) to create the writing room I’ve imagined
Not enough room in my day to connect with the people I love

The words not enough make me feel sick.  Just a couple of days ago, I wrote three simple yet powerful words in my journal underneath the date: “Jesus is enough.”  Those words stand opposing these that say, “There’s not enough,” and I ask God to show me how to live fully with what I have. I cross through the not-enoughs and write down what is accessible today.

Opportunities to write during the raw moments of each day
A place to write and more importantly, a space to dream
A phone that allows me to connect with those I love through words 
on a tiny screen when face-to-face won’t work 


Over coffee, I read John 14, and I hear Jesus saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (vs. 1-4)

Thomas, full of doubt, questions Jesus. “We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (vs. 5)

Jesus answers, “It’s me!!” He tells them, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (vs. 6)

Then Philip uses that word- the one that creeps up on me every now and then. He says, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us,” implying that what they'd witnessed was not enough. (vs. 8)

“How can you say this?” Jesus replies, puzzled that they still don't get it after all this time.  But then He gives them this precious gift. 

Jesus gives them permission to dream.

He tells them, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (vs. 11-12, emphasis added)


I return to verse 2: “My Father’s house has many rooms.” I read it again out of my big, thick Bible that I’ve had the longest: “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.”

My dream involves redecorating a room.  Jesus is preparing a place for me in heaven, and there is more than enough room.

Jesus is my writing place.

‘Place’ in Greek is topos, and it means a place where one can settle. It indicates opportunity,  a situation favorable for attainment of a goal. Jesus’ death made it possible for me to dream.  When He rose from the grave, I was granted permission to live under His authority in the place where dreams rise up, meet the Father’s heart, and bring a smile to His face.

Jesus makes dreaming possible.

We want our kids to dream, so why would we expect something different from our heavenly Father? He loves when His children dream, especially when He has placed the dream within us Himself.  

My dream has little to do with a physical room.  Blue paint, flowing curtains, and a desk facing the window would be beautiful, of course, but it’s more about a place in my heart- the space holding this desire that has spilled out into dreaming.  From the same place that was once badly broken, I can offer up a simple dream, free from expectations, free from regret, free.

With Jesus there is always enough space to dream. 

My dream is to bring hope and comfort to those I love and those I’ve never met with what I have: a pen, some paper, and an overflow of Jesus. 

What is your dream?

*For more about living art every day, check out Emily Freeman’s new book: A Million Little Ways.  This book has changed my thinking, lifted my soul, and reconnected me with the artist within myself.

Friday, January 10, 2014


How does a heart survive a storm?  I certainly don’t have the answer.  I do not know how.  A storm can stomp a heart, shatter it even, but I know that a heart can break and still survive. I know it is possible.  This I know with every thread of my soul. 

This I know.

What you are reading is not a post about God picking up the pieces and making something beautiful from the wreckage; He does, oh, He does. But when you are holding shards of your shattered-to-pieces heart in the palm of your hand, you can’t see past the hot, red mess of it all to the place where Beauty is born. You can’t see.

When a heart breaks, you are blind to beauty because your dreams are covered in death’s cloak.  Covered, invisible, gone.  And that is often where the Lie begins to speak. 

I am covered in this mess. 
I am invisible to God. 
My entire being… it’s gone.

And whether it’s a slow, agonizing death or sudden and tragic, all of life gets tipped upside down as you attempt to sort it out, all the while you are looking and searching and seeking and you cannot see. You can’t see.

I took the kids on a walk this morning since it finally stopped raining and the sun showed up after a long vacation.  The first thing they spotted was the puddles.  Flanking either side of the road, ripples of standing water reminded us that there had been a storm. Some were deep and ran like rivers. Others were shallow and still. 

My first thought was to classify each one as proof- hard evidence- that a storm had ripped through this place.  But the more I let it collide with the question how, the more it occurred to me that perhaps I was looking at this upside down.

Puddles aren’t just proof; they’re collections.

Words that have made deep impressions on my own heart in the wake of a devastating storm flooded my backwards thinking.

Blessed are those who trust in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:5-7

The Valley of Baka never meant a thing to me until I figured out that I had been there.  Baka means “weeping,” and I know that place well.  Loss of any kind will bring you there, to the Valley of Sorrow, whether your bags are packed or not.  Tears brim from the not-seeing, and they overflow into reservoirs deep in the soul. But just as salt remains long after tears dry up, a puddle is what’s left of a heartache.  A puddle holds what remains, what is left after a storm.

And puddles can be pools of blessing.

At the park down the road, there were more reflectors of the sun, proudly announcing the presence of light that has been hidden for too many days.  Bending over one such water collector, I looked in.  Smooth as a mirror in the stillness of calm, I accepted its invitation to bend further and find myself.

When you are trying to survive a storm and water is rising up to your eyeballs, it is really hard to see.  Let me rephrase that:  When you are trying to survive a storm and water is rising up to your eyeballs, it is really hard to see anything but water rising up to your eyeballs.

Puddles help us to see beyond the water.  In that bending low to look at our reflection, gazing inward at the place we're in, we begin to see that where we are is not who we are. 

Stooping over puddles also forces us to come to terms with the truth that we are very, very small and somehow, that is the most comforting thought of all, because smallness means Someone greater is in control of the mess. Smallness means it’s not our job to figure out the how, but to cling to the Who. Smallness means we just have to believe that it is possible for a heart to survive a storm.  

Because aren’t all things possible with God?

Jesus left His throne and entered our mess, took on our pain. He was sent by God to heal every shattered heart.  Brokenness is what brought Him here.  Love is why He came.

Jesus sees you even when you can't see you.

I love how the Psalmist uses the words pass through. Passing through the Valley of Tears, not parked there.  Moving past the ache of loss, not sinking down into it. Going on, not in our own strength, but in His.  The passing through is what keeps us from standing still. That's what pilgrimage is: a long journey of passing through from here to there. 

Here- where storms crush hearts to pieces.
There- where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more loss and everything is complete and made new.

The passing through part is the daily part.  The becoming part.  The making-everything-new.  We are not there yet, but we don't have to stay here either.   

We can choose to move, to pass through.

God gives us a way to move: from strength to strength, one step at a time.  It’s a daily thing- kinda like the bread thing.  He promises to give us all we need to pass through today.  And when the storm subsides, beautiful reminders of His outpour of Love and Grace beg us to come peer in and see who we are in Him and how far we've traveled in His strength.

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted. Luke 4:18

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 
Exodus 14:15-16