If 2020-2021 has taught me anything it has most taught me the necessity to relax. With so much happening that none of us were expecting, I learned to value time with those I love, respect and enjoy being around.
I learned that some things I once viewed as necessary may not have been so important. This also helped me to find more balance in my life, with personal life, work life and my spiritual life. When one part overwhelms the others exponentially, the equation of our lives can lose focus.
Spending time doing nothing, alone or with others, is not a waste of time. I have found a lot of calmness, peace and time to think more clearly in those moments. Relaxing is not a bad use of time. It provides us with more time.
Laughing, dancing and talking with friends and/or family are some of the best forms of relaxing that I’ve experienced over this past summer. Finding who you need in life helps us to stay healthy, happy and living the lives we are meant to live. It also helps to keep us accountable.
Relaxing definitely looks different at various times and can be very different for each of us, but it is so crucial to our mental health. While we should all take care of our physical bodies, this past year has taught us so much of the importance of mental health for all of us. No one is one dimensional. We are multifaceted for a reason.
If you need more balance, make it happen. Value yourself. Value others. Make it happen. You may need to start small, or you may be able to drastically change your life immediately, but whatever you do . . . relax.
So many are looking for 2021 to help us heal from what’s happened in 2020. Deaths of loved ones. Isolation. Lockdowns. Normal education having so many shifts. Fears in various forms. Faith and hope shaken up. Places shut down. Shortages and hoarding. Events cancelled. Places of worship shutting doors for weeks and months on end. Political unrest in ways never seen before. Racism and prejudices becoming harder to ignore. Loss of jobs, food, homes, relationships, and the list goes on and on.
I get it. I have faced a lot of that myself, as I’m sure you have, too.
There’s not a single human who can rescue us. God does all He can for us, yet we humans don’t make it easy. We never have.
We want life to get back to normal, while much of what was normal needed changing. Normal doesn’t exist.
We want masks gone. Not seeing full faces is not in our nature.
We want to hug and touch others. Humans crave connections.
We want to be there for our loved ones in the hospital or in adult care facilities. Going through hard times alone is not what we were meant to endure.
We want to gather with others for weddings, births, funerals and celebrations. Life milestones are important.
We want some sense of predictability we can rely on, after all of this. Yet, when was life ever predictable?
2021 will not erase the past and it will not entirely fix the world. However, each of us can do our parts and be the change this nation and world needs, be truly selfless and the best versions of who we each are meant to be in the time we have on this planet.
We can each make the differences that are needed, making life easier for all. Each of us have purpose and it is those purposes within us that are parts of so many solutions. There is much to be changed, no doubt.
However, if we truly consider our fellow humans and other living creatures that inhabit the land, sea and skies, as well as the planet itself and our Creator, life in 2021 can be the turning point that can finally get us all on the right path.
By truly choosing to see others as humans who have their own burdens, we can have more compassion.
By truly listening to understand, rather than to have our say, we can have more empathy.
By giving of the resources we have to those in need, we can heal.
By trusting those who have proven themselves worthy and by giving the benefit of the doubt to others till shown otherwise, we can have more respect for others.
By seeking truth and not just trying to confirm our own conceptions, we can have better discernment.
By doing all we can, by valuing the lives of other, we can have more unity.
While we head into 2021 in a matter of hours, reflect on what you have learned during this past year. Reflect on the good moments, because they also happened even if some were different than prior years, and learn from the bad ones.
While no year can fix so much, we can shift the trajectory too many of us have been on and begin moving into brighter days, weeks, months and years. We can leave a better legacy for those who come after us, rather than leaving behind more heartache.
May we all see the pandemic end or at least lessen to a huge degree soon.
May we give, love, laugh, and enjoy one another more than ever before.
Let’s make 2021 the year we all begin to heal and help others to heal, because we seek to make our lives and those all around us the best examples of ourselves that we all need. When we are each on the other side of Heaven, may we truly do so knowing that we were “good and faithful servants” to all.
Healing comes in many ways. Seek and you shall find.
This morning, as I sat reading the Word and praying, something came to the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t a new revelation. God truly knows that I’ve heard this truth many times before.
We, as believers, can easily get consumed with so many worries. Am I a good enough mother, wife, teacher, photographer, and so on and so on? What do I do when I seem to have done everything, and yet, (fill in the blank) still isn’t fixed, changed, different? Did I use my time and resources wisely? These thoughts, in and of themselves, are good ones to think about. We need to self-reflect, keep ourselves in check, have others help to keep us accountable. However, did you notice something in each of those questions? They are very “I” focused, rather than God focused.
We have a tendency to not just think long enough to self-reflect. Rather, I can easily find myself dwelling way too long on areas to the point that self-reflection can become worries. How? By not allowing God and His truths to be part of the equation. The truth is that burdens are not meant for us to hold.
Psalm 55:22 reminds us, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” It can’t get any clearer than that, can it? The Word doesn’t qualify or quantify the essence of our burdens. It simply tells us to give our burdens to our Lord. Which ones? All of them.
The beauty of that is that our burdens aren’t simply gone and forgotten. There’s a promise to walking in this truth. He will take care of us. He won’t let us slip and fall. So then why do we always struggle with burdensome thoughts of slipping and falling?
I clearly remember a reoccurring dream that I used to have on a very consistent basis. I would stand at the top of this long, windy staircase, and knowing how long of a walk it was, I would lean over the top railing to see how far down it was. The problem was that I would always slip and fall, straight down the center, with the fall never ending, until I suddenly awoke in a cold sweat. Kind of like an Alice in Wonderland moment, only there was no bottom leading me to a beautiful land of wonder. It was rather like a choke hold that forced thoughts to race through my head, as the speed of falling increased and I watched each level of the staircase flash before my eyes.
That is so much like what we, or at least I, can too often do. I begin thinking about an area that may or may be one that I should concern myself with, and rather than look up, I look down. Down, into myself, rather than up into the eyes of the One who sees me, who knows me, whose hands are so large that He can scoop me out and draw me close to Him, as He says, “Dear one, let me take care of you. You were never meant to fall. You were meant to stand on solid ground, and I am here. Stand on my truths.”
When I choose to do just that, my heart cries out, “Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the Lord” (Psalm 26:12)! That doesn’t meant that the situation suddenly goes away. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done. But just as time and time again through the Old Testament God fought His children’s battles or allowed them to do so, in His power, might, and instruction, we are called to the same today.
What a magnificent feeling it is when we can stand on His solid ground. To breathe. To be held by Him, and to praise Him publicly for all He’s doing and has done for us!
Casting Crown’s song “Just Be Held” is such a wonderful reminder of what our loving Father tells us time and time again, if we would only listen:
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
Theres freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
Don’t get consumed by anything that isn’t of God. We are told to not worry. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us that He has us, He has the situation. We are valuable to Him and He won’t drop us. We won’t fall.
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This blog may be one of my longest ones to date. Over a long time, God has shown me to dream beyond my imagining to dreaming God sized dreams. I can remember a time, as a teenage girl, when my youth pastor encouraged us to pray for our future spouses. He wasn’t encouraging us to focus on looking for the one God might have for us. He was encouraging us to pray “for” that person now, not after he/she entered our lives. I can still remember him saying, “You never know if you are the only one praying for them.” Powerful words!
Well, as I prayed for the man who would later become my husband, God showed me the attributes that this man would and should have, if he was to marry me. They seemed way beyond what even other Christians were hoping for, but as I continued to study the Word, I saw that they lined up directly with God. Not only that, but focusing my eyes on who God would have for me, kept me from making some major mistakes. Years later, when I did meet my husband, I learned that he came to know the Lord during his teen years, in a powerful way! God only knows how much my prayers may have helped to shape him into the man he was and would become. Even more, my husband is all God wanted for me, not an impossible dream.
I can also remember the time when I had to decide which colleges to apply to, and though I’m not advocating applying to just one school (unless God makes that VERY CLEAR), I knew that I knew that I knew that I was meant to go to a specific state college. Others, especially family, thought I was nuts. How could I put all my eggs literally in one basket? This was my future, we were talking about!
To help provide a peace to my loved ones, I decided to apply for early acceptance, which meant I would know months before others if I was going there that fall, but most importantly, I would know ahead of having to submit more college applications, before the deadlines to other schools. Though I did fairly well through my school years, there was no logical reason why the school God wanted me to attend would send me an early acceptance.
As God would have it, I got early acceptance, and He did one even better. They offered me a good-sized scholarship. What had already been clear to me, became clear to others. What’s more is that I grew more spiritually in that place, than ever before, not because it is some special school, but because of daring to dream and trusting God for the results.
I can also tell you of the numerous times I would feel God showing me who He wanted me to be and what He wanted me to do, down the road. However, the location of where this would occur, was completely foreign to me. Then, many years later, as my husband and I were traveling from the airport, for his final pastoral interview and for my teacher interview, I couldn’t help but notice something. Outside the car windows, for miles and miles, I was looking right at the location of my dreams. As we arrived, and did some exploring, more of what God had shown me for so long, were now right before me, in living color and in some cases, in flesh and blood! I cried joyful tears, many times during that weekend.
I have long felt an affinity for Joshua, in the Old Testament. He was a man who clearly dreamed God sized dreams. As he was mentored by Moses, it spoke to me when I read, “Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting,” in Exodus 33:11. Here was a man God was shaping to see the Promised Land before he would ever step into it. Twelve men had been sent to scout out the Promised Land and report back to Moses, Aaron and the rest of the Israelites. Ten of the twelve could only see what was in front of them, and they passed along their fears to the others that this was not of God, without consulting Him. However, in Numbers 14:5-9, we see Joshua and Caleb not only dreaming God’s way, but truly seeing His reality, before they entered into all God had for His people:
“Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, ‘The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
That’s what’s so amazing about dreaming as God desires us to dream. We can’t always see what He places in our hearts and dreams. They don’t always make sense. Many times, they don’t, because they involve His intervention, rather than man’s, in order for them to come to fruition. But God tells us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That’s exciting! If we can think it, He is able to do even greater!!! That’s what He wants for us.
Even though that piece of Scripture was written many years after Joshua, Joshua knew the heart of God. This is probably why in Joshua 10, we see five kings send their united armies to fight against Joshua and the Israelites, out of fear for what they had seen God deliver them from, in prior battles. This would causes most people to run the other way. Yet, God had given Joshua big dreams, dreams of who He is and what He wanted for His people.
In Joshua 10:9-14 we read:
“Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.
On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said, ‘Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.’
So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.
Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!”
Wow! How many of us would ask God to stop time, the revolution of the Earth around the sun, even stop time, very unnatural things, because His people needed more time, and Joshua knew that if he could think it, God could do greater, and God did! He allowed His people to get physically involved in the battle, and as if the sun standing still wasn’t enough to show them who was really at work here, God destroyed those who tried to escape, with a hailstorm. That’s the God we serve, a God who wants us to expect great things from Him.
Looking back at those who dared to dream God sized dreams in the Word, in the lives of others I have known or met, and in my own life, I couldn’t say this better than Paul did in Ephesians 1:3, when he stated, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”
Did you catch that? He has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms! It isn’t future tense. He has already done it. All we have to do is enlarge our vision and dream as God wants us to, because He has already ensured us that He is able and has already made a way.
This is why the Dream Centers, which began in LA, came into being and spread world-wide. This is why the “National Community Church” in Washington, DC stands today and its pastoral staff and congregation continue to be testament to dreaming God’s way. This is why the Assemblies of God exists today. This is why Wayne Tesch, an ordinary man (like all of God’s big dreamers) began Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp for abused foster kids, which is now over 150 camps strong world-wide!
Are you getting it? God wants us to dream big enough for Him to do even bigger things! Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 13:23, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” He wants to go WAY beyond whatever we dream.
So start dreaming, but keep God in the equation. Ask Him to enlarge your vision. Dream in accordance to who God is and who He says we are in Him, because we serve a BIG God. Dream, remembering that what is impossible in our eyes is VERY possible in His, and feel free to share with me and my readers about God’s big dreams and what He’s done since you dared to dream! Not only does it encourage all of us, but each testimony gives glory to God, the giver of great dreams.
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