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Category Archives: Life Everyday

So, you’ve reached the age when time starts speeding up. Days are slow but weeks and months fly by and just forget about years. Life has been galloping circles all around you, and you’re not as good as you used to be at ignoring certain nagging questions. “Am I too old now?” “Did I miss something along the way?” “Are cargo shorts still cool if you live in the Northwest?”

You’ve got all these dreams knocking around inside your head. When you were younger you thought everything would just happen. Your life’s course would unroll before you like a red carpet. Destiny was unstoppable, God had a plan. But wasn’t God supposed to drop that plan into your inbox about ten years ago? You feel like you’re still waiting to get started.

This is not a post about giving up on your dreams. Well, maybe it is just a little bit.

Charlie Peacock has long been one of my favorite artists. He’s an eclectic, imaginative musician whose lyrics are vivid and meaningful. I have fond memories of my teenage self puttering around in my room with his album, Love Life, streaming out of my bulky CD player. You know, the ones with detachable speakers, so great. He is better known today as the producer of bands like Switchfoot, The Civil Wars, and The Lone Bellow.
As I plunge ever deeper into my thirties, one of his songs in particular often plays on my internal soundtrack.

The chorus of William and Maggie goes like this:

     “…I’ve been thinking about you and me, and everybody in between,
      It seems we’ve suffered one too many dreams of things that weren’t so bad,
      It’s just they were never things that we could trust,
      Are we still pretending they’re enough?”

We human beings are natural dreamers. We can’t help it. They start at the earliest age.
“When I grow up…”
Often our youngest dreams are wild, wonderful and unlikely. It’s a hard truth but the fact is, no matter how much we pined away and proclaimed our intentions to the world, Dinosaur Wrangler is just a dead profession.

As we got older, the world came into better focus and our dreams became more realistic, although “beautiful” and “unlikely” were still closely connected elements. Dreams, as they grow, tend to take on an increasingly noble attitude. We discovered that the world needed saving. Our dreams took on more definite shapes. We began to love our dreams, so much so that we infused them with the substance of our identities.
Artist, entrepreneur, athlete, missionary.
The more we dreamed, the more we saw ourselves not just doing these things, but being these things and that’s where the trouble lies. That’s why it can be so terrifying to think about giving up on a dream.

Listen, this is something I have to remind myself of often; we are much more than our occupations. It’s only natural for us to allow our personalities and idiosyncrasies to inform our vocational aspirations but we must not allow our vocations to define who we are. We are relational beings. Relationship is the most fundamental, most valuable thing we are capable of. I am not a minister, a photographer, a worship leader or a tile setter. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father and a friend.
These roles are infinitely more valuable than the most noble vocation. It’s time we stopped pretending our dreams are enough to define us or justify our lives.
The only thing in life significant enough to give us that definitional gravity is relationship. Ultimately the only titles that can satisfy the questions of our identity are the titles, son of God and daughter of God.

So, time to give it up?

      “Maggie, by whom all hearts were measured, kissed William softly on the cheek and said,
      ‘Sometimes William… William sometimes you’ve got to open up the windows
      And let the wind blow through.'”

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Dreams change over time. Sometimes it’s not the dream itself that changes but the version of the dream that we had been chasing.
For some of us letting the wind blow through means realizing that we have some more subtle dreams, just below the surface. They are so constant that we don’t always realize they are there. It’s time we rediscover the everyday passions that we take for granted. For some of us it may mean an adjustment of scale. Maybe you won’t ever be a rockstar but you may be a wonderful local worship leader. You might not become the nation shaking evangelist but you could become the only christian voice your neighbors are willing to listen to.

     “The famous are rarely significant and the significant are rarely famous”
     -Dennis Prager

Maybe, we need to allow the Father to shed some light on the true motives behind our dreams. If we are willing I believe He will remind us why we love a given dream, or He will reveal what deep internal hole we’ve been trying to fill up with our aspirations.
Perhaps we’ll find we need to dream bigger. God may blow the dust off a dream and say its time to step it up. He might ask us to change a casual pursuit into a set of goals and calculated risks.

Never stop dreaming. Don’t neglect the callings of your life. But from time to time, can we be brave enough to let God’s wind blow through so that those dreams can be dusted off, cleared away, or maybe born again?

     “When your fondest dreams die… Jesus opens up doors to greater glory”
     -George Washington Carver

Last summer our family and my husband’s sister’s family went to Lassen National Volcanic Park. We spent almost a week taking small hikes to thermal areas, eating lunch by mountain lakes, and creating wonderful memories together. It was a perfect family vacation.

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On one of our last days, we took a 3 mile hike to some beautiful lakes so the kids could swim. The hike began at about 7,500 feet elevation and it was almost all down hill, which meant the hike out was going to be a tad more difficult for the kids and my sister in law, who was carrying my 1 year old niece on her back in the ever-so-handy Ergo. When we arrived at the lake we saw several thunderheads approaching, still we stayed at the lake until the kids had their fill of swimming. Once they had swam enough and reached the point of exhaustion, Paul, Jason, and Isabella decided to hike a bit further to look at another lake while Jessica and I gathered the rest of the kids for an uphill hike back to the car.

We began the hike back directly below the ominous sky and we weren’t too far up before I heard the very loud thunder directly above our heads. Immediately, I looked back at Jessica with an expression of “WE ARE GOING TO DIE,” on my face and without waiting for us to come up with a game plan of how not to die, I picked up my 4 year old, cradling him like a baby and grabbed Gracelyn’s hand and ran, leaving my sister-in-law to save her own life. I realize now, this wasn’t the most selfless of decisions.

Meanwhile Paul had Isabella, who is very fearful of storms, and I knew this was going to be a challenge for her. When they had first heard the thunder they were crossing some rocks with Isabella several paces behind him. He looked back at her and seeing the fear in her eyes, he told her that it was okay.  He took a few more steps ahead and all of a sudden she was standing next to him clutching his hand. Throughout the hike back, she continued to act scared off and on and Paul told tell her the facts about the storm and in what ways they are safe. At one point it began to rain and after coaxing her a bit, this is the picture he took.

 

lassen-1975

Arms outstretched in the middle of a lighting storm on a mountain top.

Once we got to our van, I waited for Paul and Isabella to arrive, convinced that they were struck by lighting while I was trying to catch my breath because it felt like I had swallowed a golf ball. This was due to the 7,500 ft altitude with lungs not accustomed to being in this high, let alone running.

I saw him sauntering up the hill and once he got in to the car, I told him how scared I was.

He asked “why?”

Me: “Because of the lighting. I thought we were going to die!”

Then I started crying. Sobs and all while he told me the many facts about the storm. The main fact being “the second rule.” Count the seconds between the thunder and lighting to determine how far the lighting is from the thunder, which is 10 seconds per 2 miles. We were out of the danger zone.

I realize that this story of frantically running up a mountain to outrun a lighting storm while carrying one child and dragging the other by the hand, leaving my sister behind to fend for herself and her two children, simply because I had forgotten the “second rule” can be told as a funny family story from a great family vacation that we will never forget.

However, it tends to be moments like these that my Father removes the curtain to shed light on something deeper and in this case, He used it to show me how I have wrongly believed who He is when I go through life’s storms. I believed that even if lighting doesn’t strike anyone else around me, it will strike me. And that is why I have to run. And not just run, but I have to do it all on my own.

On a February day, 12 years ago, we were told that our two identical twin boys were not going to survive outside of my womb because they had an autosomal recessive disease that affected their little kidneys and the chances of a child having this disease were very small. Both parents had to carry the mutated gene which was a 1 in 100,000 chance and even then, the child only had a 25% chance of getting the disease. And to be pregnant with identical babies is only a 1 in 285 chance.

We lost those two sweet baby boys, Joshua and Kaleb. The twins I asked God for since I was a little girl and then prayed for healing while they lived in my womb. They beat the odds and stayed with us for longer than the doctors anticipated. We held Joshua for almost a day and Kaleb for a day and a half. We buried these boys on a bright day in May in a little plot under a tree. I think of them every day. And not only do I miss them, but I remember the reason we lost them, chance.

These life altering, heartbreaking, never-be-the-same-again moments that were caused by chance. I knew I had to run to beat my odds by reason that these rules of being struck by lightning don’t apply to my life.

And so my Father asked me, “Do you want to run up the hill trying to outrun a storm with fear gripping your heart or do you want to be like your daughter? Holding my hand, as the rain pours, and the lighting strikes around you, while I tell you that you are safe?”

The answer is easy. I want to be safe with Him. Not because the lightning isn’t going to strike, but because when it does I am wrapped up beside Him and He tells me that my heart is safe. He tells me that He closes up the wound and tends to the scar by reminding me of His promises. His promises of redemption.

We aren’t guaranteed a life without any lightning, without any loss. However, we are promised a life where our Father walks with us on a mountaintop during our storms.