The memory is seared into my mind from a trip to Uganda in 2012.
I had asked a beautiful group of orphaned students about their dreams.
Actually, what is seared into my brain is not the question.
It is the rapidity, the passion and the strength of their answers.
I heard things like “astronaut,” “doctor,” and “teacher.”
The girls’ eyes glistened as they enthusiastically shared their dreams.
Ask that same question to a group of middle-aged American adults. Often, the respondents will get a far-away look, shrug their shoulders, and sadly reply: “I don’t really have any dreams for my life.”
What a tragic contrast. And why? Why do so many affluent Americans not have any dreams for their future?
Sure, there are plenty of oleaginous motivational types who will tell you: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Sometimes yes, and sometimes, no. For example, no matter how much plastic surgery I might try, I would never be selected as Miss America.
A better alternative? Ask God to give you HIS dreams for your life.
There’s a much-abused verse of Scripture that says “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) The “name it and claim it” types will suggest that verse indicates that God is the equivalent of a heavenly vending machine. Love Him and He’ll give you everything you want.
Father knows best. Especially our Heavenly Father. Every prayer is not answered the way we might hope.
But here is a prayer I do believe that God will answer: Ask God to reveal to you His dreams for your life.
Delight yourself in Him. Enjoy Him. Spend time with Him. Praise Him for His myriad wonderful character qualities. Build your relationship with Him just like you would with a best friend on Earth. And ask Him to place His desires in your heart and to give you His dreams and secret petitions for your life.
I did that over 10 years ago. “Coincidentally,” I drafted the Leave Nothing Unsaid format just a few months later. Yes, it’s been a long time unfolding and I’ve been through some valleys. But I believe, with all my heart, that this is a God-given dream.
And one practical tool that I have found to be inspirational as I pursue my dreams is the use of a ”Dream Board.” Basically, it’s a bulletin board on which I place images. Images that reflect the dreams I believe have been planted in my heart by God.
Here’s my Dream Board. And if you’re interested, here’s a brief tour:
The title: “The Great Adventure.” Inspired by the song by Steven Curtis Chapman, that’s how I see my life. A great adventure as I follow God’s lead.
Believe: The heart of who I am as a Christian is to believe God’s promises and to believe that He answers prayers.
The watering can, the Leave Nothing Unsaid logo, and the pebble in the pond:
My dream is that the message of Leave Nothing Unsaid will spread across the globe and that a letter writing movement will ignite and flourish.
The heart in the hands: To have a full and healthy heart of love to share with others.
“When:” Back in 2013, when I had just launched Leave Nothing Unsaid, I made the passing comment “if this is successful.” A friend quickly challenged me. He said: “I’m not saying IF. I’m saying WHEN.” What a shift in perspective.
Arms up: Two pictures on the board show me with my arms up. The first was taken at about age 6 and reflects my God-given temperament. Joyful. Exuberant. That spirit was in hiding for many years, but God has been bringing that little girl back to life. The second was taken right before my 40th birthday as I finished the Peachtree Road Race. It’s been more than a few years since that race, but I dream of staying healthy, fit and active throughout my life.
Dove Wrapper: It says: “be proud of your age.” I am 59 and proud of it!
The “Be Brave” pendant: My mantra as I continue to step outside of my comfort zone. That’s where growth happens.
Pictures of my daughter as a little girl and as a “bride:” Some day, I dream of being a fun and active grandmother. Those pictures help me imagine what a granddaughter might look like.
“Believe in a Better Life” and a couple walking on the beach: The saying is actually part of Eagle Ranch’s materials. I am privileged to serve on their Board and dream that lives will continue to be healed there. But the combination of those words and that image is also a dream for my own life of having wonderful, Christ-centered companionship for “the last third.”
How about you? What are your dreams? Do you believe that God has placed them in your heart?
Have you ever thought of creating a Dream Board? If not, why not try it in 2016?
I’d love to hear about your how your dreams become reality.
And I’ll keep you posted on mine.
Praying that all of our eyes will be glistening like those precious children in Uganda as we share about our God-given dreams and how they are coming to life.
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