“What are you longing for, deep down in the depths of your soul?…Use your imagination…go on, close you’re eyes and dream.”
I stared at those words on the page in front of me and blinked hard.
What are you longing for?
Sleep!! Came the cry from my heart. Ha!
Beyond that…what are your dreams? Your callings? What makes you come alive?
I can’t remember the last time I would’ve used the word alive to describe how I felt.
There was a time that I had dreams, longings; things that I would desperately love to do “if time and money were no option.” Yet now, when faced with that question, I couldn’t even venture a guess. What do I want? What are my dreams? Do I even have dreams anymore?
In her new book, Longing for Paris (Tyndale House, releasing August 2015), Sarah Mae asks us these very questions and helps us discover that the God who created us does, in fact, care about our dreams. The creator of the universe who has painted uncountable sunsets in unimaginable colors and beauty made us in that same imaginative, creative image.
We – as humans and as women – were made to long, to dream, to create, to laugh, to enjoy. However, sometimes, life has a way of stealing those things from us. We lose our ability to relish the beauty of a sunset or revel in the coolness of a soft summer breeze because we are so caught up in just surviving the day to day grind.
If we are married, we are called to devote ourselves to our marriage, making it our top human priority. If we have children we are, of course, called to raise and nurture them, training them in the ways of the Lord and how to navigate the great big world.
However, recognizing and respecting our dreams does not necessarily have to drag us away from the calling of home and family. In fact, when we are fulfilling the longings and giftings the Lord has intentionally placed within us, we are able to fulfill our roles of wife and mother even more fully – and flourish doing so.
1. Observe. Pay attention throughout your daily and weekly tasks and routines. Is there anything you do that energizes you? Makes you feel alive? Feeds your soul? What drains you, leaving you feeling dry and dead inside? Anything that answers any of these questions can give you good insight into what your dreams my be. Don’t forget prayer, too! Ask God to show you those gifts, talents, interests and dreams that He’s given you.
2. Experiment. In Longing, Sarah Mae talks about how she embarked upon experiments and adventures with her family in order to find and bring more beauty and enjoyment into her life. If you don’t come up with much in the way of answers after some observation, experiment a little. Try a Zumba class. Join a baking group at the local community college. Start a blog. Write a song. Take a woodworking class. Just find something that piques your interest and try it. You don’t have to be great at it, but you may just find something makes your soul feel alive and free in the process.
3. Prune. We can’t have it all, and we can’t do it all. Sometimes the reason we’ve lost sight of what fills our souls with color and life is that we’ve said yes to some things we should’ve said no to. After you’ve observed and experimented, you’re in a good position to find things which you can prune from your life. Things that drain, time suck, or serve no real purpose for your personal/family goals. Sometimes the biggest thing we can do to rediscover our dreams is to give ourselves room to breathe.
If you do these three things, you will be well on your way to reconnecting with the things that make you tick. Those things which bring light and life to your heart – which make it easier and more fulfilling to pass that light and life on to your family. It may not happen overnight, but it’s a process that can be highly freeing, and make for a happier, healthier, more well rounded wife, mom, and daughter of the King.
Happy dreaming, sisters!
Having grown up a desert rat in central and southern Arizona, skiing was always somewhat of a foreign concept to me. It was something either rich people did, or college kids on winter break. Certainly not an option for a girl like me: not an athletic bone in her body who lived hours away from any possibility of snow.
Then we moved to Austria.
During the week long semester break in February, just about everyone in Austria who has kids does one thing: go skiing.
My husband, who grew up with a ski-instructor for a father, also naturally grew up skiing. He’s told me fondly many times how he remembers skiing between his dad’s feet when he was only three or four years old. Our nomadic lifestyle, coupled with the fact that most of our adult life had been spent in either Ireland or Texas – two places not well known for great ski conditions – made it so it had been years since Seth had been able to ski, even though it’s one of his favorite pass-times.
Guys, I was slightly terrified. Excited, but terrified.
I mean, what if I was awful at it? What if I hated it? What if I embarrassed myself, not even able to make it down the kiddie slope? What if I broke my whole body??
1. I’m physically stronger than I thought. My instructor (yes, I took lessons rather than my husband teaching me. We were told it would be best for our marriage…I believe “they” were right. Anyway.) started me out not with going up the mountain on any kind of lift, but side stepping our way up. “To help me get a feel for the skis and my body on them.” Ha. Also, once I did use a lift, it wasn’t the kind with a seat. It was just a rope that I had to grab onto for dear life as it tugged me up the hill, but also had to let go of soon enough that my hand didn’t get sucked into the vortex of death. You guys, I spent the day tugging, pulling, squatting, lifting, bending and all manner of other “-ings” and I’m not too humble to say I rocked it! I had much more stamina and physical ability than I would have imagined (Thank you Shuan T and Insanity!). At the end of the day, my muscles were totally shot and that’s when I learned the next lesson about myself.
2. I’m mentally stronger than I thought. There were several times when I just wanted to give up. Like the time I ventured higher on the run and bit it big time and slid halfway down the slope on my back. I briefly asked my husband to just bury me there and go on; and tell the kids I love them. But I got up anyway, and my mind gave my body the strength to continue on – without breaking every bone!
3. My husband and I make a pretty darn good team. This one I knew – it was cemented home in the deepest corner of my heart just how great a team we make after the birth of our first child. However, I was reminded of it again this trip. After the massive face-plant described above, Seth was encouraging me to try again from the higher spot on the run. I was – ahem – less than willing. He offered to go with me, and I reluctantly agreed. As I started down the slope, speed caught up with me quickly and I started to panic. That’s when I heard his voice behind me, “You got it. Pizza slice the skis. There you go, good. Now turn, gently. Keep turning, keep turning. Great! Now straighten out. Yes! You got this!” and so on. Man, guys, just hearing his voice – so calm, so confident – gave me the mental boost to get myself under control and do what I had been taught to do. Cross over into real life? Uh, yeah. In short, my husband rocks and he’s my hero.
4. I’m more of an athlete than I thought. I have used many words to describe myself over the years. Athlete or athletic has never, ever been one of them. However, as I was skiing down that hill, it hit me: I am actually quite athletic – as long as it doesn’t involve a ball, puck, or any other such device. I’m great at sports that require self-awareness, balance, and good body control. A friend bestowed the word “sporty” upon me when she saw a photo of me on the slopes on Instagram. At first I balked, but now, I take that adjective and own it proudly!
5. I’m still not an adrenaline junkie or extreme sport enthusiast – and that’s ok! I have spent most of my life (and particularly my childhood) wishing I was something other than what I was. I wished I was more sporty, or better at math. I wished I longed for adventure and excitement; that I would love the “thrill” of the free-fall feeling on a roller coaster. The truth is, I just. Don’t. I’m finally, at the age of 36, starting to feel at home in my own skin, and appreciate who and how God made me to be. I don’t want to waste any more time mourning the things that I’m not – and that Susie Smith next door seems to be. No. While I never want to grow complacent in life, and I never want to be unwilling to push myself and try new things, I want to spend my energies and time developing and honing the skills and gifts God placed in me from the beginning. Skills, gifts and talents He gave me on purpose. For a reason. To wish those away for some other trait or talent I see in someone else is not only insulting to my Creator, it is denying and wasting who I am.
So, there you have it. Some deep personal/spiritual lessons I learned about myself last week while undertaking a new and scary endeavor that I ended up loving.
When was the last time you tried something new and/or scary? Did you learn anything about yourself? Share in the comments!
Does it seem no matter how hard you work, things just don’t seem to get better and the outlook seems bleak?
I have so been there, friend. I want to encourage you, though, that God is present and He is whispering His story of love and grace to you every single day.
If you’ve just joined us from The Better Mom, I want to welcome you! I’m so glad you’re hear! Feel free to grab a nice cuppa and look around awhile!
She sits alone in her hospital room, new babe at her breast as tears roll silently down her cheek. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
He hangs his head in his hands after he hangs up the phone. He didn’t get the job. The one that was so perfect for him. For his family. I don’t understand…I was perfect for that job.
The woman in the power suit splashes her face with water and fixes her makeup. This strong, capable woman still raw from the verbal beating she just received. Why does she have to be so abrasive? Can’t she see we’re on the same team?
A young couple sits in silence on the couch, stunned by the news they cannot buy the house of their dreams. It was the perfect house, perfect location, perfect price and yet they were turned down. We thought that was the place we were Meant to be. How did this happen?
Your breath is sucked from you chest. Your sense of purpose, once so strong and resolute now barely hangs by a thread. The road that was so clearly laid before your feet now seems hidden in the mist and shadows and your steps are shaky at best.
What do you do when the last thing you knew is no longer? When the One thing you were meant to do seems impossible. Broken. Hidden. The task is too great, your strength too weak.
Yet somehow you know the end-goal hasn’t changed. It’s never changed. You are still Meant to do that thing, you just don’t see how.
Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Just because there are challenges, obstacles, sand-paper-people at every turn doesn’t mean you should stop. Don’t let the hard times be for nothing – let them be redeemed for Something much greater.
In this world of comfort, ease and quick fixes, we’ve come to believe the lie that if it’s hard, it’s wrong. We think if it’s something we are meant to do that it will be easy, safe, predictable.
But can I just suggest that if we quit when the going gets tough that the tough times are for naught? Let the pain you have walked through be cultivated into beauty. Let the mire and dung that has muddied your steps for so long be used as fodder for a glorious blooming beyond comprehension.
And when others see the beauty that radiates from you, share your story from ashes to glory. And with that you sow a new generation of blossoms in the heart of those who receive it.
There have been several times in my life during which I’ve felt particularly useless.
Times when life seemed to be not only lacking opportunities to use my gifts and talents, but almost seems to be deliberately blocking the use of them.
I feel these times more acutely as a mother than another other time of my life thus far.
On a recent road trip with my family, I saw something that spoke to my heart and was such an encouragement to me for those times when I feel particularly useless. I’m sharing my thoughts over at The Better Mom today, and I’d love to have you come join me!
If you’ve just clicked over from The Better Mom, I want to extend a warm welcome to you, and thank you for taking the time to come visit! I hope this little corner of the web is an encouragement to you. Be sure to introduce yourself!