Following your Dreams

From a very young age, we are “socially aware”.  We act, react & respond to those around us.  We feed off of their energy, the words they say and the way they say them, body language, actions & so much more.  Even a young toddler can recognize laughter in response to a silly thing they did, a scolding when a rule has been broken or encouragement for doing the right thing.

As we grow, we begin to get self conscious about these things.  We can say that we don’t care what other people think until we’re blue in the face, but the fact remains that all of us, to some degree, do.

So, what happens when those around you are scoffing at your plans?  What kind of reaction do you have when those closest to you tell you your dreams may not work out, and you “should accept that”?  How does it make you feel when someone you love, admire and respect tells you that your vision might be a little over the top and you shouldn’t “get your heart set on the outcome”?

It hurts, that’s it in a nutshell.

But, friends, one of the very first things I learned when working on my mindset, improving my mood & squashing depression’s hold on me was that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it.  Being proactive instead of reactive changes the game.  It can inadvertently change people’s response around you, sure - but that’s not the goal, and that’s also not likely - so, remove that from your todo list today, and you’ll sleep better tonight, promise.

When we set our minds on a goal, we have to be so stinking steadfast and focused on it that we do not swerve to the left or right.  It reminds me of learning to drive, my dad would constantly remind me to keep my eyes far ahead, on the car in front of me or something off in the distance.  It keeps you in line and steady.  Goals are like that.  Now, I’m not saying to get tunnel vision, and not allow for diversions, road bumps & most definitely enjoying the journey along the way - because life is a journey.  Once we reach that goal - and we will if we continue to press ahead and use the right methods, systems & consistency - the horizon will shift.  That goal will change, once realized, and you’ll be chasing after another.  So, we can’t constantly look at the horizon and wish it were closer - it moves with us.  

We have to go into this - whatever this is for you - with the knowledge that naysayers will come, and they will neigh (get it, neigh? Nay - naysayers? ;))  We have to be so committed to what we’re doing that it goes in one ear and out the other.  We have to be so busy with those we are serving and the lives we are changing that we don’t have time to worry about what they say.  We need to be so invested in the betterment of our minds, our leadership & our skill set that instead of asking “why doesn’t she believe in me?” we are 100% sold on belief in ourselves (and, of course, Jesus).  Aaaand, speaking of that… When the storms come - and they will - we have to be so firmly planted on the solid rock that We. Will. Not. Be. Shaken.

What is one of your big dreams, I’d love if you’d share it with me, and also tell me what’s holding you back if you haven’t went for it yet?

Yes, my living room is a playground, and No, I won't apologize for it

Yes, my living room is a playground, and No, I won't apologize for it.

As I was cleaning up yesterday's toys off of the living room floor, early this morning - because I had a few minutes between loads of laundry, an hour or two before the baby wakes up and a little extra energy (Thanks, Red), I thought back to an image I once saw, it was a cartoon image of mother and a young child, both viewing the same exact room, but both with a completely difference perspective.

The mother saw chaos, disorganization, mess, disaster and most certainly embarrassment should anyone come knocking on the door unexpectedly.  The child, on the other hand, saw fun, adventure, memories, creativity & joy.  Now, one could certainly giggle at the image and most likely say something along the lines of “ahh, the bliss of being a child and not caring about all this stuff!” or “If she trained that kid to cleanup after himself, put each thing back before another is taken out, etc....” or perhaps even “yep, that's #momlife right there, the #neverendingstory of #motherhood, and that's just how it is.”... And,  those are your average responses.  

However, I was convicted and pricked by a thought, as I picked up the 27th Hotwheel that a nice elderly couple gave my son at a recent Vendor Event.  (They just came up to me – after my wonderful mother-in-law picked up my very-fussy-toddler to free up my hands for a few hours to focus! - and said “Hey, were you the one with the little boy trying to wander around everywhere?”, yup, that was me!  “Well, do you want this giant tote of free Hotwheels cars?”  Sure... what could go wrong? Said I, so we own them now.)

I started thinking, so many of these toys, dress-up props, crumpled up drawings, and heck – maybe even one or two of these chewed up Crayons (Oops?  They're non-toxicish, right?) have memories attached to them.  I start thinking about (don't judge me here, I enjoy children's movies, and they're honestly the only thing I watch when I do decide to watch TV.) the movie Inside Out, and how all of her memories – and core memories – are stored in this huge database inside her head, represented by little orbs. Now, I'm not that juvinile in my thinking that I actually believe there are little people inside our heads, categorizing and cleaning up after a giant library of thoughts, feelings & memories – I'm certain they have better things to do in there wink - just kidding;  But, I do love the visual.  

When my children see me carelessly (and sometimes straight up angrily if I'm being honest) throwing their toys back in the bins, muttering under my breath about how ungrateful and messy they are & showing contempt for their childishness (I'm not addressing irresponsibility or lack of discipline here, that's a topic for another day) what kind of message am I sending them about their value, good stewardship, my patience, what servanthood looks like, teamwork, long-suffering & joyfulness?

“Mom's huffing and puffing again, she must not enjoy being a mom, do I really want to have kids one day?”
I'll clean them up later, unless she yells then I'll get up cause she must be serious
“They tell me not to throw my toys, but look at her chucking them over there...”
“I was so exhausted last night after setting up all my cars in a circle like that and having a contest for them to all jump off the baby slide and see who could get the most air, that I totally forgot to clean up, wow mom sure seems mad, maybe I should watch more TV instead of playing, that's not as messy”

These thoughts may sound extreme, but I guarantee you kids have them, and more.  My own kids have said versions of these types of things in the past, or I've heard from others that theirs have.  Our kids are tiny humans, they will one day be teenagers and then adults  They will be way less impressionable then, they will have traits, quirks & a more solid/developed personality.  What we say & how we say it becomes their inner voice.  They pickup on cues that we are sometimes more hardened to as adults.  Body language, excitement or lack-thereof – impatience inflected through sighs or speed of speech, and more.  I'm speaking to myself here, let's remember the value of these little souls we are raising, and let's love them like our Heavenly Father loves us, with patience, grace, love & mercy.

God's Timing

God is so good, even in those moments where we don't take time to realize it,  When pastors say: “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good” they aren't kidding.  

I am an off the beaten path type gal, and I enjoy swimming against the popular stream typically, and in being so, it inspires me to also look at things that others do not – more specifically to look at things the way that others do not.  I often reflect on the past – a little too often sometimes, to my chagrin – and, while there are some super painful moments that come into mind, moments that – in my own shallow human condition – if I could go back and change (either by forethought or a fan-fictional DeLorean) I absolutely, unequivocally would... I imagine that the Lord allowed them to happen for a reason beyond my comprehension, allowed me to keep the pain from them for a reason and allowed me to glean so much from that very pain.  

So yes, even in the pain, God is good.  

I think about timing a lot, timing in the past, the present and future, timing in general.  Timing.  God is outside of time, but He uses time, doesn't He?  He uses it so masterfully so, ordaining every moment of every thing, like gears in a clock that must line up so very perfectly for everything to run.  Everything from the crazy-fast rotation of the earth in alignment with all of the other plants, to the police-chase that came within 2 feet of smashing into the car with my children and me in it, God has everything in his timing, it's all in His hand.  Can you imagine if we could just grasp this concept alone?  How relieved would we be?  To realize the comfort in things being truly out of our hands.  

Have you ever planned a party, or any type of event really, and been rushing around to make it all perfect?  If you're cooking a meal, decorating for a party, or doing any other task that takes precision and skill with a healthy dose of time-crunching, then you know what a joy and relief it is (unless you're an absolute control freak) to have someone come up to you and offer their assistance.  “Hey let me take those potatoes off your hands!  I'll take it from here!” Yes!  Mashed potatoes taken care of! What simple relief is it to have a task totally taken from you by a capable person?  It frees you us, lets you focus on another task, lets you relax. The relief we could experience if we just realize God's perfect timing and provision far surpasses any relief we get from having a mashed potato assistant, friends!  This is the good stuff!  

Find Time to do Anything

So, you want to write (or do something else) but you just can’t find the time, eh?  The dishes are piling up, your phone keeps ringing and the kids want to go watch bunnies hop through the field outside, right?  Hey, I know.  Been there.  Done that.  Still there.  Listen, that stuff, while important, isn’t going to magically go away some day and let you do what you want.  You have to make it happen.  Here are some tips below on how you can find time to write (or do anything).

Work Smarter not Harder. 

Man, I wish I’d coined that phrase.  It rhymes, it’s true and it just has a nice ring to it, no?  Honestly, if you’re going to get anything done in life, you really need to make a strategy.  Without a Plan of Action, you’ll be mindlessly moving throughout your day.  From the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until your head hits that pillow at night, it will seem to fly by, and looking back you’ll wonder what you actually got done.  Friend, you need a sense of accomplishment as motivation to keep going.  You need to get your priorities in line and organize your time and life to make the life you want.  You cannot go through life wobbling around aimlessly and then complain when you’re not hitting any goals.  Remember, “He who aims at nothing will surely hit it.”  Let’s take a look at a few ways you can Make Time, because you’ll never find it, to write, or do anything.

1.  Keep a Schedule

This one is so so so so SO important.  I cannot stress this enough.  That’s why it’s number one.  I’m not one of those people who has a color coded bullet journal planner with our entire lives for the next 3 years mapped out or anything, but I do keep a really basic planner (and close to a hundred alarms on my phone - hey, no judging!)  to organize our day to day lives / bills a bit.  I also maintain a weekly menu plan (most weeks, sometimes I slip) so that we know exactly what to expect when dinner time rolls around.  This helps more than you know.  The weeks when I forget to menu plan and schedule, or get lazy, are very chaotic.  My husband comes home from work and is looking for dinner, but time got away from me and I haven’t started it yet.  Or worse, I realize we don’t have the ingredients to make anything, so we end up ordering out.  This is very rare now, but if I don’t stay on top of things, can still happen.

2.  Wake up earlier

I’ve tried probably every technique in the book for waking up earlier, this is a toughie.  Every night before bed I tell myself I’m gonna do it, I have an internal pep talk with my brain and we agree this is going to happen.  But, for some reason, when that alarm goes off, my brain decides to go back on the agreement, like it was crossing it’s fingers the night before when we made this deal.  “You deserve to sleep in”  it will lovingly tell me, “Just 10 more minutes” it coos.  I’m a sucker and I still fall for it many times, I won't lie.

3.  Employ your children

(For this tip, I’m assuming you have children.  If you don’t then you should have time – HA!  Just kidding, but seriously, if not, then maybe you can borrow your friends kids…) No, I don’t mean to literally hire them – unless you do allowance and count that as “pay” – I mean to involve them!  You’d be surprised what kids can handle.  Honestly, kids are usually willing to help, especially if they know the why.  Explain to them what you’re trying to work on (whether it be Blogging, another passion project/hobby or even working outside of the home.  It takes many moving parts to make a home work! 

4.  Accept the mess

Face it.  Your home will never be 100% clean and organized.  Think about it.  Even when you had free time to watch that TV marathon or take a bath, was your house perfect before you gave yourself permission?  If this is something you want, you need to prioritize it, and that means some other priorities need to move down on that list.  I’m not saying to let your house go, but give yourself some grace, mama.  Set a timer for a Quick Cleanup and once that timer goes off, let it go and move on.

5.  Just say No

This one can be difficult, depending on your personality.  I have trouble saying no to people but not out of guilt or obligation or anything like that.  If I have time to think things through, I’ll usually come to a more reasonable conclusion in my head, vs when I am asked face to face to do something and need to answer quickly.  In my heart I want to say Yes as much as possible, because I love helping others and enjoy most of the things I agree to.  But, when I’m already stretched too thin, I realize that I need to get real and be honest with myself and others about my limits.  This is another area where you really need to figure out your priorities and what matters most to you.  It’s OK to help others and volunteer your time to a worthy cause but at what expense?

6.  Let others Help

A lot of times, I think we can be too proud to admit that we need help.  It takes a big person to let go of their pride and admit that, no, we can’t do it alone.  For me, when I know that family is coming over for a visit, I’ll feel like I need to have certain things done so they won’t “judge” me, so I rush around making myself crazy to get the house clean… How silly is that?  The people who are actually supposed to love and accept you, might judge your house that your children destroyed?  Well, if they do, hopefully they keep their comments to themselves.  But honestly, most of the time, your family and friends would be more than willing to lend a hand.  Especially if you have babies or little children.  Most people know what it’s like and would even offer their help before asked.  If the grandparents come over and you’re trying to nurse the baby, instead of handing the baby over so that you can go load the dish washer, ask if they’d mind doing it!  9 times out of 10 they will gladly do what they’re asked!

7.  Hire out

While not an option for everyone, sometimes you need to hire out some work.  This can look different for everyone, but some examples are:

  • Mowing the grass/Weed-Whacking/Landscaping
  • Car maintenance (sure, it’s fairly easy to change your own oil, but maybe it’s faster to let the pros do it.)
  • Laundry Service (I don’t know about you, but laundry is my least favorite chore.  If I ever hit the big time, I will hire this out first.)
  • Grocery Shopping (in the last 5 years or so, so many grocery/food delivery services have popped up, you’ll pay a bit more, but time is money and you need to figure out their worth.)  * Instacart is one of the newer services, but they offer many store options in lots of areas!  At this time of writing this post, they service over 40 states! Check to see if they have anything in your area.  You can get a $10 credit towards your first order and free delivery if you sign up through my link.  You’ll pay a bit more for Instacart, but they have delivery times as soon as an hour or two from when you place your order!  That’s amazing!  People just like you and me deliver for them, and are basically “on call” waiting to shop for you!  I love this option because, while you do pay a little more up front, it actually saves us money in the long run because going in the store with multiple children = you're definitely walking out with a few impulse buys.  
  • There are lots more grocery services, you can just Google It.  There are also Meal Prep services such as HelloFresh, BlueApron and more.  You’ll definitely pay up for these, but some people have no time, will or skill to cook, so they have plenty of options in that case.
  • Child Care such as a in home Nanny or Baby-sitter
  • Family/Grandparents (this could be free! or bartered)
  • Virtual Assistant (if you have too much computer work to do and not enough hours to do it, you may be able to find a VA to help you respond to emails, design your website or do some other trivial task to free up your time)
  • Maid (hate cleaning your own house?  If you have more money than time you could definitely hire a maid to do housework for you!)
  • Any other task that you feel could be transferred to someone else and still make that money/time ratio worth it.

Finally, Just do it.

Seriously.  This is going to be as simple as it gets.  You will NEVER find time, you MUST make it.  There will always be something to do, some other way you could/would/should occupy your time, but you have to decide if you really want whatever you’re going after.  If the answer is yes, then just do it.  If you sit around waiting for the right time, the right feelings, for fear to pass, for enough investment money, for everyone to jump in and make your life peaches and cream easy so that you can pursue your dream – you’ll never do it.  Big dreams come to be when we actively chase small goals and press forward, one foot after the other, with courage and confidence and without tarry.  

As I sit here and write this post, there are toys, a few pieces of paper and crumbs from this afternoon’s lunch on my living room floor.  Thankfully my oldest did his chores so most of the routine housework is complete, but there’s a few dishes in the sink too.  I probably have laundry to do, and I’m sure the upstairs closet is long past due for a good “spring” cleaning.  I need to organize my desk and fill in this week’s menu plan (I’ll get to that one later, promise).  But, right now I’m working on my blog, and that's OK.

So, friend, what is holding you back today?  Give yourself permission to chase your dream.  Don’t let everything else fall by the wayside, but put in your time and then call it a day for that task.  Figure out how to do what you need to do, and then what you want to do, but then – more importantly, just do it.  Do you have any tips for helping you “find” time to write (or do anything)?  Please share them below or email me, I’d really love to hear from you!

Is it Possible to Live Humble AND Dream Big?

A conflict of interest it would seem, to live a humble life yet have big dreams/goals.  From a biblical standpoint, we are to be humble servants, emulating Christ and being very modest about our own esteem.  From a worldly standpoint, we should be proud of our accomplishments, after all we did it, right?  So how do we live this dignified and quiet life, pleasing to the Lord yet chase after our aspirations and accomplish something bigger than ourselves – especially when that big dream involves finances or being in the spotlight?

Ask Yourself Some Very Serious Questions

Ask God, the Author and Finisher of Your Salvation

Firstly, whenever we make any big decisions as followers of Christ, we should be consulting Him first.  Hearing from the Lord can come in many forms, which I’ll discuss in another post, but there are a few basics that I think we need to cover when we involve God in our life plans.

First, does this dream / idea seek to glorify Him?  Now, let me say that I’m not insinuating every little thing we strive for in life has to be directly related to God in a loud and tangible way, but moreso that it doesn’t conflict with our faith.  If we decide to start a new career, is it going to be something we are proud of in front of Jesus, or ashamed of?  For instance, there’s nothing wrong with being a lawyer or a bank teller – as long as you’re honest, obviously – but…. if you want to be a go-go dancer or a bartender, that’s a different story, ya see?
Pray about it.  So many people think that praying is a one way thing but that could not be further from the truth!  When we meet with God in prayer regularly, He responds.  It may not always be a response we want, but He responds.

I’m not saying it will [always] be audible, but we will receive an answer if we keep knocking.

Read the bible!  2 Timothy 3:16 says “all Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”  Your answer may or may not be in black and white, but reading God’s word will give you wisdom and invite the Holy Spirit in to speak to your conscious and help to lead and guide you.

Seek wise counsel.  The bible has much to say on seeking wisdom from our fellow humans:

  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12:15
  • Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:20-21
  • & many more verses.  

If you have a Study Bible, you can actually search by topic or words to find related verses!

Worship!  “You may be saying, “WHAT does this have to do with decision making?!”  But again, you’re inviting the Holy Spirit into your living tabernacle by worshiping the Father in spirit and truth.  Not only should we praise Him with our voice (our hands, instruments & dancing) but also with our lives, the way we live, the way we talk, who we are and what we do.  When we are living according to God’s will for our lives, our path will become much more clear.  

Be Thoughtful, Do Your Research

To be a wise steward of what you’re given, you need to make wise choices / investments.  By investments this can be money, resources or time.  You really need to evaluate what impact this choice will have on your finances, yes, but also on your family and relationship with God.  A humble servant of the Lord isn’t going to put all of their “eggs” in one “basket” so to speak, they’re going to carefully weigh their decision before going forward.  We don’t want to live beyond our means trying to achieve whatever it is that we’re chasing after, because we might end off worse off than we started.  Depending on the magnitude of your dream, it may require a huge time and/or money investment in order to see the fruition.  This should be taken into account, and all options and outcome weighed thoughtfully.

Discuss With Spouse / Family

In today’s society, we as women especially are so concerned with being on equal playing ground with our male counterparts that we sometimes try to be above them.  As modern wives, most of us are anything but submissive.  Again, this is a whole other post, but it needs to be said.  “Wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (emphasis added) – Ephesians 5:24.  It’s not easy, it’s not always ideal (for us) and it doesn’t always happen, but it’s important to God’s plan.

So also should husbands consult their wives.  Communication is key here, and any big decision should be discussed with one another.  This helps with clarity, transparency and intimacy within the marriage.  This can also be quite the asset if your spouse decides to be on board and help this dream manifest into reality!

Literally, Stay Humble

So, your dream is coming to realization.  Things are working out and you see that this was in fact the right path to take. You’ve seen the Lord’s hand at work in your venture, and you’re having a good amount of success.  It’s so essential to remember to actually stay humble.  You didn’t get here on your own.  I like the saying our pastor says often “If you’re walking along a country road and you see a turtle on a fence post, remember – he didn’t get there on his own.”  Most importantly, it was Christ who made this possible, but also if you look back, there were probably so many people along the path to where you are now who helped you get there.  It’s easy for any success, large or small, to go to our heads, but pride is no good and can damage our relationships with others and God.  Remember, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Psalms 25:9

“If you’re walking along a country road and you see a turtle on a fence post, remember – he didn’t get there on his own.”

In closing, I don’t believe that it’s wrong to follow our dreams and want more out of life, as long as we check our pride at the door, avoid arrogance and remember to put God first in everything.  If we are given a platform we should use it to point to Him, if we are given abundance we should use it to help others and if we follow our dreams and things don’t work out we should still give all the glory to Him and be content with what we have, which is far more than we deserve.  Remember, friends, stay humble but dream your big, scary exciting dreams – because, if your dream doesn’t scare you, it probably isn’t big enough!

What do you think, is it possible to chase (and achieve) big dreams and stay a humble servant of Christ?  I’d love to hear your opinion!
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