From all of us at God-sized Dreams, we wish you a Merry Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Savior!
Fall is becoming a distant memory. The chill in the air reminds me to search for my gloves, scarf, and earmuffs. The leaves hang on in places, but barrenness stretches across the landscape. A silent chant begins to crescendo each morning as I reluctantly crawl out of the warmth of my blankets.
Prepare Ye the Way! Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!
Holiday madness is in full swing but I find myself pushing back against the tide of busyness. I begin the chant again.
Prepare Ye the Way! Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!
I press pause on my to-do list and pull out my Bible. As I turn to the Gospels searching for the familiar words, I sit down ready to read and exhale the stress I’ve been holding inside.
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation. Luke 3:4-6
John the Baptist preached these words, first spoken by Isaiah the prophet, to the people in the countryside of Jordan. The foreshadowing proclaimed in them fill me with hope and a new understanding of how perfectly God fits the pieces of our history and future together.
Our lives reflect the seasons. We journey through times of busyness, barrenness, waiting or ones producing much fruit. The beauty is how God faithfully takes each season and uses it for His good.
John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord. His timing and preparation paved the way for Jesus. John’s work took place in the wilderness. His dreaming and preaching began in an unlikely place, but his part of God’s story was essential. Whether we are the main character in God’s story or a member of the crowd, we are needed and essential.
I read the words of Luke again. I whisper, “Prepare ye the way” and prayed for wisdom. How can I move forward amidst all the distractions? What can I do to keep my focus during the upcoming season? Will I allow God to prepare my heart when I’m in a wilderness season of waiting?
My life the last few years looked like a season of transitions. The time crept slowly until I began to allow myself to dream in earnest. I prayed and dreamt some more. God showed me glimpses of what my future looked like. I prayed again, but this time for patience in the waiting. Piece by piece the dream became my reality. My heart opened to receive the gift that God extended in the process of embracing the next step. But first, I gifted myself with the chance to dream.
In my dreaming, God showed me…
That waiting is not only a time of preparation but a time for God to work behind the scenes putting the pieces together.
How hope plays out when our faith is engaged and becomes hope-fulfilled.
An unexpected time of transition is God’s gift to us when we allow the slow down to become a time of rest and renewal.
That praying for dreams to come true prepares our hearts for all God is going to do.
No matter what the season, He cherishes our dreams and weaves them into our story as He is able.
It began with one chant….
Prepare Ye the Way! Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!
It ended with named dreams and a promising future. God carefully held my longing in His hands and set it free as I prayed for His will to be done.
The blessing of dreams is a gift we give ourselves. The prayer we pray for our dreams to come true is our invitation to God to unfold our heart’s deepest desires.
Blessings in the wilderness! May all your God-driven dreams come true!
Shared by Mary Geisen
It is the day before Thanksgiving. I actually will be sitting down with my family to celebrate a little early, on this day.
You may be at the height of preparation for this day, when we get together with the people we love (or ask God to help us love) and basically do one thing. Eat.
You may be traveling. You may be in the last minute, grocery store line. No matter what stage you are in prep for Thanksgiving, you are getting ready for time around a table.
When I lived overseas, it was always interesting to explain to my friends that this holiday really was centered around food and a table.
There can be some major expectations set for Thanksgiving Day if you look at the Hallmark Movie channel or spend time on Pinterest. The table exquisite, the food never burned and always made right on time, the family getting along, and the turkey turning out perfectly.
Why does it look so easy on TV and the glorious world of the Internet but not always feel so easy in our real lives?
Dreaming God-sized dreams can be the same way. It feels like it should be easy and all work as planned…after all, other people do it. We can see our friends grow their speaking platforms, get the writing deals, have incredible God-sized dream experiences.
What we don’t see is the behind-the-scenes stories. The hard work. The sometimes-shed tears. The fears of failing. The wanting to give up. The rejections that lead to the open doors.
Just because my Thanksgiving table does not look like yours does not make it less than or a failure–it makes it a place for the joy of shared experiences with my people–to experience thankfulness with those God has given me to celebrate life with.
I don’t want to miss the joy of what happens around my table by comparing it to someone else’s table.
Let’s not miss the joy of our God-sized dream journey by comparing to someone else’s God-written story. Both are written by the God of glory.
True story. Last week I hosted “Friendsgiving” in my one bedroom basement apartment. I had eight people I dearly love around my table.
It could have been easy to think about the fact that I live in a tiny apartment and have a flimsy card table, decorated with Dollar Tree decorations for people to eat around. To think about how I slightly burned the casseroles, how the homemade rolls did not look as pretty as the Pioneer Woman’s, and how the gravy turned out more like glue or wallpaper paste.
It would have been easier to compare to the other Thanksgivings I see and miss the joy of what was in front of me.
We had a wonderful time that night laughing, talking and eating, all while making sure not to lean too hard on the card table so it would not collapse.
When I compare my God-sized dream story to other’s journey, I can lose heart. I can find myself feeling those twinges of envy, wondering why my story looks different from your story.
That is Satan’s sneaky way of making us miss the table God has set before us.
God has brought us to His banqueting table, His banner over us is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)
He has set the table for your God-sized dreams. He has invited you to feast at the table with Him. Let’s not miss it by dreaming of sitting at a different table.
I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your people at your places.
Maybe at some point during the day, you can sneak away and make a list of all the thanksgiving you have for the ways God has shown up this year.
Maybe it has been in surprising ways. Maybe it has not looked as you expected.
I can guarantee that as you make that list you will see, He has been among you, your dreams, and in your story, all for His glory.
Shared By: Jennifer Hand
Thank You for the freedom that You have given us. Too often we live chained to insecurities, hurts, and fears. Would You help us move forward today? You hold the keys to set us free from that which holds us back.
You have given us the gifts of breath, time, and creativity. May we be good stewards and use these gifts for Your glory and fame. May we follow Your lead—not running ahead nor lagging behind. May we keep in step with Your Spirit.
Thank You for the ideas that You have placed within us. Thank You for the talents that You have given.
Please forgive us for operating independently of You. We have no good thing apart from You. We are in desperate need of You.
There are wonderful aspects to being a dreamer. Help us not be prideful when things are going well. There are challenging things about being a dreamer. Help us not to give up when we face obstacles. Whether we find ourselves on the heights, depths, or somewhere in between, may we stay the course as You lead the way.
Thank You that we are not alone on this journey. Help us to reach out to others and encourage them as they move forward. May we not minimize nor idolize the dreams of others, but encourage them to be faithful to the path set before them.
On this Independence Day, may we remember all the dreamers that have gone before us. May we honor their sacrifice by being faithful with both the little and the big. Forgive us for minimizing the ordinary and the small. Help us to remember that small might be the new big.
You are Trustworthy even when life unfolds differently than expected. You can do the impossible. Nothing is too hard for You. Help us to release the results of our dreams to you. You can do more than we can even imagine.
You know the things than can destroy and You can see our blind spots. Help us to stay close to You, our Creator. You are the inventor of creativity, help us to magnify You above the works of our hands. Forgive us for making more of the gift than You, the Giver.
Lord, we want to produce sweet fruit. We desire our work to be pleasing to You. Help us to remain close to You, grounded in Your Word, and loyal to Your lead. Keep us from acting independently of You. We need You. You are the Master Artist and the Author of our stories. May we fix our eyes on You, incline our ears to hear from You, and use our feet to fully follow You.
We offer You our minds, our hearts, our time, our lives for Your purposes Lord.
Thank You for creating us to be dreamers. May we light up our community with Your light.
Shared by: Katie M. Reid
Heavenly Father, we come to you today with hearts of anticipation. For the dreamer in all of us the new year holds opportunities and new expectations. Guide us Lord in this new year. We pray that You would show us the path we are to go on for 2016. Give us a spirit of courage and wisdom to step out in faith for You. Help us to use the unique gifts You gave to each of us to be a light in the darkness. Thank you Lord for all of the ways you provided for us in 2015. We want to remember how we were challenged and stretched, we desire to seek You with our whole hearts as the new year begins. We are grateful Lord that You have been and always will be with us every step of the way. You created us with hearts that long to do more for You and so we stand ready to serve You well, Lord. No matter what this new year holds Father, we celebrate today the knowns and the unknowns, trusting that Your presence will be felt through it all. Thank you for Your love Lord. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Many blessings dream sisters as we look forward to all that 2016 will bring!
The wild tree in my living room reminds me that life is full of adventure as we seek God and the dreams He’s given us.
A few years ago, we decided to cut down a tree from my mother-in-law’s farm to use as our Christmas tree. We brought along some friends who did the same. Mimicking the children’s classic “We’re going on a bear hunt …,” our kids chanted, “We’re going on a tree hunt …”
If four years in a row can make a tradition, we made one – one that we never anticipated but continues to go down as a favorite holiday adventure.
This is the fourth year our living room is decked out with a tree from our hunt. I love the smell and the unconformed look of its branches wildly reaching out. God created this tree uniquely – just like he does each one of us and our dreams.
I prefer white lights and ornaments from places we’ve been and those that document my kids’ growth. I even like their handmade ones. Our tree is perfectly imperfect and radiates beauty. Maybe your Christmas tree is artificial with shining colored lights. It doesn’t matter – it’s yours.
And it’s okay if you don’t decorate for Christmas the same way every year. We’ve had artificial trees in the past, and in some ways, that’s easier. But we like the adventure that comes with my husband Greg using a chainsaw, hauling the wild tree home, and making it fit in a portion of our living room. The kids like to help decorate, stretching their little arms as high as they’ll reach.
I really love when the house is quiet and dark, but there in the corner of the living room is the glowing beauty of our tree. Sometimes I need the quiet and dark to see the glory.
I think about when God told us to adopt. We had no idea what we were getting into – talk about adventure.
I remember when I realized I was supposed to tell our infertility and adoption story because it’s my faith journey that taught me I belong to God. Yes, the earthly adoptions made us a family, but we’re also co-heirs with Christ. The parallels are exciting and the most tangible example of faith I’ve experienced.
I spend time with my community of people. It’s loud and chaotic, but God is there and I can’t imagine my life without them. That’s real life adventure right there.
There is so much goodness this time of year, but there are also so many expectations that society, relatives, and we unnecessarily put on our shoulders. The tree in my living room reminds me to let go of perfection, embrace my right now, and pursue the dreams God has for me.
In Breaking Free: The Journey, The Stories, Beth Moore wrote directly to my recovering-perfectionist heart that has been known to get discouraged even in the best of times: “No, I do not believe in fairy tales. But I do believe in God. He sent His Son for just such a purpose. Whatever the cause of our mourning, Christ can be the lifter of our heads. He can give us beauty instead of ashes … Satan wants to destroy our dreams. God wants to surpass our dreams. I believe God gives us dreams so we’ll long for God’s reality.”
Love came down and was born in a lowly manger for you and for me. We can put presents under the tree, but the Savior’s presence is what matters.
Regardless of how we feel about this or any other holiday, God redeems and breathes new life into us. And, really, isn’t that the greatest dream of all?
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (Isaiah 61:3).
How that’s demonstrated in our lives varies from day to day and season to season. It certainly looks different in your life than it does mine. But let’s celebrate wherever we are. Let your life sparkle like those lights wrapped around the tree. Display your story like ornaments hanging from branches.
Like our trees, your journey isn’t going to look like mine – and that’s okay. But wherever God takes us – individually and together – is going to be beautiful because His glory will shine.
Christmas is certainly no fairy tale – it’s better. And there’s plenty of adventure to be had and dreams to be fulfilled.
Shared by: Kristin Hill Taylor
In the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
I love Christmas.
The family gatherings, meals, laughter, presents, decorating-all of it.
Since it is the season of giving, I’d thought I would create a few fun printables just for you! (<=== Click to tweet) They are 8×10 in size but can be printed larger.
Click on the link(s) and save to your computer, print, and frame!
Shared by: Alecia Simersky
I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of year, and I have a thing for ornaments. We had to get another tree because I get new ornaments each year for each of my kids. I blame my mom 😉 she made sure we each had a new ornament for the year and we each had our own box so when we decorated the tree we could decide where our ornaments went. When we left home she gave us our boxes and I started a similar tradition with my own family.
In recent years I have been seeking something different. I don’t just want to buy something at my local department store. I love finding those ornaments that “mean something.” So when I first heard about Ornaments for Orphans at Allume in 2013, I was excited.
In their own words, the mission behind O4O. “Ornaments4Orphans’ mission is to empower indigenous artisans through fair trade practices, invest in the holistic care of orphaned children through our partners, and provide our customers with an opportunity to purchase beautiful, handmade items that bless others. When you purchase products from Ornaments4Orphans, you can be certain that you have made a difference in the lives of the men, women, and children where Ornaments4Orphans is present.”
This year I bought these stuffed animals for my kids. These are made in Uganda out of the coolest fabric.
Because I love crosses, I also had to pick up this one as well!
And one of my favorite things they carry is nativity sets. I also collect those (couldn’t it just be Christmas year round?!) I have sets from Haiti, Mexico and Africa thanks to my dad and his many mission trips.
This set is beautiful, and now is displayed on my built-ins in my kitchen!
In the coming year, we here at God-sized Dreams, will be partnering with Ornaments for Orphans to raise awareness and offer some fun Christmas gift ideas for you and your family. They also have a great way that you can share O4O with your community/church. You can host a Christmas tree at your church and sell ornaments for them, at no cost to you!
Just choose where you will have your tree, contact O4O and they will ship you a set of ornaments to hang on your tree, promote and sell and then ship all proceeds and any remaining unsold ornaments back to them with the postage paid label they provide!
It is a great way to raise awareness in your community and offer your friends and family a fun buying opportunity! If you want to help you can find out more information here!
Because of #GivingTuesday, Ornaments for Orphans is having a special sale and offering free shipping on your orders!! Take time today and do a little shopping with a wonderful organization that is giving back!!
All photos courtesy of Ornaments for Orphans.
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”
For those brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom, thank you.