Have Your Dreams Come True?

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Have you had your happily ever after?  Have your childhood dreams come true?

When you enter a Disney Park, you read the words, “where dreams come true” and every fairy tale has a happily ever after. I’ve been to Disney World 4 times and Disney Land once and my dreams have not come true.  At least the dreams I had as a child of finding my prince charming, living in a big house on the top of a hill with horse stables and open green space.  And don’t forget the maids…. Does that mean that my dreams will never come true?

The greatest aspect of childhood is the imagination and dreaming.  Exploring imaginations as children opens a world of adventures and dreams.  As a child you were open, the world had no limits, life seemed simple and you could do anything you imagined.  In an instant, you could climb into a spaceship and fly to the moon, slay a dragon and rescue a village, find yourself in an African safari roaming with lions or being rescued by a handsome prince and living happily ever after in a castle.

Then one day, you grew up and reality set in.  Your imagination dwindled, your dreams faded and your openness became constrained.  Why?  Why did your dreams as a child or even as an adult not come true and fade into the wind? Why was your openness placed in a closet and your imagination disappeared?  Why did you not have your happily ever after?

Although you can imagine and dream what your life would be, but if your dreams are yours and not aligned with God, you won’t have your happily ever after.  You may have a temporary happiness but it won’t be permanent.

One of my favorite saints, St Ignatius of Loyola, discovered this lasting happiness when his imagination aligned with the saints and Jesus.  When he was seriously wounded, the only material available to him was books on the saints and Jesus.  What he realized was that when he would imagine himself fighting for the King of Spain and winning the hearts of the most beautiful ladies, he had a temporary joy.  When he found himself imagining the adventures of the saints and fighting for another King, Jesus, his happiness lasted longer.  This was the birth of his conversion and the spiritual exercises.

As it was with St. Ignatius, when your dreams align with God, they do come true and you do receive your happily ever after.  Your dreams and openness are keys in your life to the doors God has ready for you to open.  In Matthew 19:26, Jesus says that “for God all things are possible.”  Right there, He tells you that your dreams are possible with God.  If your dreams are His will in your life, they will be fulfilled.

Today, my dreams no longer consist of finding prince charming, living in a big house on a hill.  These are the things that the world wants me to dream of having.  My dreams consist of what’s impossible for me alone, but with God is a reality.  It is a dream of love, joy and charity.  My dream is of peace in knowing that God has greater things in store for me, a greater purpose for my life.  It is a dream of listening and receiving the key to the kingdom of Heaven.

What is your dream today?  What does your happily ever after look like?  Does it involve conforming your will, your dreams to that of God’s?  Do you have joy and hope knowing that it aligns with God’s dream for you?

The Great Ascent

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Imagine, you are walking in a nearby field at the base of a mountain.  You marvel at the height of the mountain.  Each day, you feel invited to draw closer to the mountain.  One day, you begin to walk and realize you are ascending up the mountain.  As you continue the journey, you come across steep rocks in the path and you think to yourself, there is no way I can go any further.  I’ll have to turn back and head back to the field.  As you begin to turn around, you feel something tugging at you but you don’t see anything there.  You pause for a second and then begin to move downward and then you notice someone approaching you.  He is carrying a shepherds staff.  You are a little startled.  You know that you didn’t see anyone a second ago and now here is a person, a shepherd with no sheep in site.  As he draws nearer, you begin to feel something sweep over you, strength and courage.  He stands beside you and looks at the path ahead.  He nods in agreement on how steep the rocks look and he tells you give it a shot that he is right there beside you.  You begin to climb and what seemed impossible, now seems doable.  You are astonished.  Once you have reached the other side of the rocks, you look back and no longer see the shepherd.  You tell yourself, I thought he would be right beside me.  It looks like he left.  Before persisting onward, you notice 3 small rocks that look unusual.  You take the 3 rocks and stack them at the location you have just conquered over the steep rocks.

Then, you continue to pursue the path laid before you.  As you proceed up the mountain, you reach a place that has two paths.  One of the paths looks easy and wider than the other.  The more narrow path appears to be steeper, has very rugged terrain, and gives you a sense that you could fall below with just the wrong footing.  You stop and analyze both paths, thinking of all the consequences that could possible happen on either path.  As you begin to walk towards the path that appears wider and easier, a boulder falls and blocks the path.  You again assess the situation and with fear, you want to turn around and return back to the field.  Just then, you see the shepherd again.  He doesn’t say a word as he stands beside you.  You then begin to journey on the narrow path.  You notice this time he is behind you as your foot slips and dust and rocks fall below.  Your heart is beating very fast with fear of falling.  Suddenly a calmness sweeps over you and you feel strengthened to move forward ascending the mountain.  As the narrow path comes to an end and it opens  up again, you notice the shepherd is no longer behind you and there are 3 small stones before you.  You stack these stones as you did before and press on.

You are beginning to feel hungry and thirsty.  Just then you notice a spring and some wild berries.  You stop to eat and drink from the spring.  You sit a while to rest as you delight in the view along the bank of the spring.  There are vibrant, colorful flowers and greenery that you have never seen before.  It looks like a painting hung in an art gallery.  Just as you are about to get up and restart the journey, the clouds roll in and a storm begins to cover the sky.  No place to run and no place to hide, you wonder what you are going to do as the rain begins to pour.  A storm on a mountain can’t be a good thing.  As the lightening begins to strike, towards the eastern side of the path, you notice the shepherd and what appears to look like a small crevice, like a cave that could provide shelter from the storm.  He signals for you to join him.  You sit in this small space for shelter.  Your clothes are wet and you begin to shiver.  You feel an embrace and realize the shepherd is holding you and you begin to feel warm and comforted.

Once the storm has passed, you look around and the shepherd is gone yet again and you see 3 small stones again and begin to ponder. Each instance you began to feel afraid, resistant, weak, or faced with adversity along this path, you saw this shepherd and found 3 small stones.  Who could this be? And why 3 small stones?

You walk further up the mountain and as you ascend, you can sense a newness, a freshness in the air.  Your shoulders seem lighter, your mind feels clearer and you sense freedom.  You feel there are no longer things binding you to the field, to the world.  You spin around with your hands in the air, taking in this new found freedom, resting in it.

At that moment, you realize that each time you were afraid, you met adversity, weakness, and resistance, the shepherd was guarding you, his sheep.  When you were afraid to go on when you thought you couldn’t take on the task at hand, he helped you and showed you it was possible with his help. When you were faced with 2 directions to discern in life, a difficult path and easy one, he guided your decision and walked with you along the difficult path. When you were hungry and thirsty, he provided your nourishment. When the storms covered your life, he gave you shelter in his arms, comforting you until it blew over. He was guiding you and as you pushed pass each of these instances you stacked remembrance stones to signify the areas in your life where you were faced with challenges and Jesus carried you, guided you, nourished you, comforted you, gave you shelter.  At the top of this mountain you just ascended, you are rejoicing in the freedom that he has given you through your trust in his will in your life as you prepare for eternity in his glory.

Can you feel the freedom? If not, have you let go of your own will and fears and allowed him to carry you, nourish you, and guide you as you ascend to holiness, to sainthood?

Who is the pilot?

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“Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the LORD that endures.” Proverbs 19:21

None of us ever want to just take the reigns or the wheel and go full speed ahead, knowing exactly where we are going and where the next turn is, do we? This is our constant nature. We want to be in control. We know what’s best for us, our family and even sometimes our friends.

And then one day, something clicks and you realize that you aren’t in control. May be it was that moment you fell ill, or lost a job, or found yourself in an unwanted divorce. Whatever the circumstance, at some point you realize you do not have control, you never did.

Several months ago, I found myself in the emergency room. This visit initiated a long process of healing. I am a very independent person that struggles with being still and resting. A couple of months after the emergency room visit and lots of downtime and rest, I found myself needing another surgery. This series of surgeries has caused me to rest a lot. Something I’m not very good at. As weeks go by, I find myself so ready to get back to normal, normal routine of juggling work and everyday motherhood. I must be insane.

When I think about that insanity… stresses of everyday life versus resting what am I thinking? As I reflect on that, I find myself saying to myself I want to be in control of life again. I want to be able to do everything that is normal to me. Isn’t this typical of us? Instead of resting in God and letting him take the wheel, we always want to drive and him be our passenger. God probably chuckles every time we do it, thinking to himself, why can’t they make it easy? I’m in control anyway, why don’t they just rest and enjoy the ride. We may think we have the wheel and are driving but in reality we don’t. Next time you are faced with the choice of rest or taking the reigns, just rest and let God be God.

Another truth I’m learning from my surgeries is having patience and allow the process to take shape as needed.  Today I had a follow up appointment with my doctor. Weekly visits, high maintenance healing process is what I heard him say. Frustrated, I thought – REALLY? When I had a moment to think, I sat down and digested in prayerful thought. I heard God tell me that my life is high maintenance, a slow process of refining me into the gem he created me to be. Just as my doctor is refining my healing little by little so is God in my life. Each little moment, each painful struggle, each moment of healing internally and externally is a step closer in this slow process to the glorious moment of eternity.

This healing process from day 1 emergency room visit is teaching me 2 things:

1. God is in control, rest and enjoy.

2. Life is a slow process, have patience and trust God.

Today, I ask you are you struggling with letting God pilot and you copilot or are you asking God to be copilot? Are you wanting to speed up the healing, get rid of the struggles, get rid of the frustrations, or the stress before God says your ready? God, like your doctor, knows the best path forward for your treatment. Trust in that, let him be the pilot.

A Masterpiece

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Years ago, my daughter had just noticed that she was getting freckles and was upset. I told her that God was painting them on her face and that she was his beautiful painting. Later, I started thinking about that a little more in regards to life…. Our journey through life is exactly that – God’s work of art.

Through every trial and suffering, through the people we cross everyday, through the joyful moments, and the challenging ones, He is carving and molding us into a work of art, His work of art. He is never done with us. He is always moving us, pushing our boundaries outward. All we have to do is invite Him in to do so. Allow Him to do so. Accept what is happening to us. Trust that He knows what He is doing and that He will create the most perfect, most beautiful piece of art work with each moment, each person in our life – challenging and non-challenging.

Through it all, He will not make a mistake. He will not let you fall and shatter. Do you accept the invitation? Are you willing to allow God to shape you into something you could never imagine, you could never do or be on your own? Will you allow Him to paint your freckles, make you His masterpiece?

Spiritual Healing

pexels-photo-999311.jpeg“For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds.” – Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Who hasn’t endured suffering through a trial or doesn’t know someone who has?  I’m not sure anyone can answer “not me” to this question.  Pain and suffering surround our life.  It’s part of our world.  Trials are a part of our life journey.  God never says we will not suffer.  He does say he will be with us and see us through those times of suffering.

Jesus bore the ultimate suffering.  When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, his “tears became like drops of blood,” (Luke 22:24) and he placed his will in God’s hands.  As he asks God to “take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42) God gave him strength to endure the suffering of his journey that lay before him.  God also sent Simon the Cyrenian to help carry Jesus’ cross.  I believe God also sends people and circumstances to us as we place our will in his hands during our struggles, while carrying our crosses.

Everyone undergoes suffering at some point in their life.  These trials may come in different shapes and sizes and affect each person in different ways.  One may suffer the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, addiction, divorce, be a victim of abuse or a tragic accident.  This list goes on.  During this time, many people discover a relationship with God or may strengthen their relationship with God.  Some may never get passed it.  They may become angry with God.  They may wonder where God is or how could he let this happen, yet they never ask him.  They remain stuck, angry, bitter.  Their world becomes plagued with darkness and they can’t move on, past the hurt.

Healing from a tragedy or a trial in your journey of life is key to peace, joy and happiness.  Healing cannot be complete without going through a process, an emotional process, a process with God ever present, guiding you.

Many years ago, I went through an emotional healing process, a spiritual healing.  Through my journey, I uncovered a reliance on God.  I sought God as he guided me through a very emotional and painful divorce.  There were several elements along the way that I needed to achieve spiritual healing, total healing from my trial.  God prepared me each step.  Before advancing to the next step, I needed to learn the step before it.  It’s like a father who is teaching his little girl how to walk.  Before she can begin to walk on her own, he helps her stand and feel her strength in her legs.  Then he holds her hand as he helps her move each foot, one step at a time.  When she begins to grasp it, he lets go.  She falls and he picks her up, reassuring her confidence as he holds her hand again and then let’s go.  The process continues until she masters each step, with his guidance and security knowing he is there to pick her up.  This process is similar to God’s spiritual healing process.  The entire time he is there giving you strength, guiding your hand, and ready to pick you up when you fall.  Then one day, you are ready to walk your journey with joy in your heart.

Freedom

Imagine you are walking along the beach.  The sand is sliding in and out of your toes as the ocean brushes over your feet ever so gently.  The sun begins to rise on the horizon.  The sky is painted in an array of orange and pink hues.  The view is breathtaking.  As you breathe in the fresh air, you smell the newness of the day that has been placed before you.  As you continue to peer across the ocean embracing all the beauty before your eyes, a seagull flies nearby, sweeping near the ocean surface.   What a delight as you imagine the freedom he has in the open sky.  Just as you imagine soaring free in the beautiful skies, the wind blows across your face and through your hair and you feel an immense freedom.  Peace sweeps through your entire body and you know deep within that there is a presence within you whispering “I am within you and will never leave you”.  At this moment, you experience the greatest freedom from the things that bound you in the world around you.  You want to stay in this place.  You soak up all that you can to experience it as long as you can, walking freely along the beach shore engaging all your senses.  The world feels as though it has stood still and it is just you, the beach and all that has been placed before you in the peaceful scenario by the one who has loved you from the beginning, your first love who “formed [your] inmost  being and knit [you] in [your] mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:13.

In this moment God meets you where you are.   He meets you in this pivotal moment of your life as you embrace all he has laid before you.  Do you feel His encounter?  Have you wondered where he has been lately?  Have you been spiritually starved, caught up in the busyness of life?  Are you restless and feel like you never have a chance to sit down, let alone pray?  Or may be you just feel there is more to your life, more to you, God is calling you but you don’t know what for?  Or perhaps you are afraid to be still and listen, afraid of what you may hear?  May be you are afraid to surrender control of the things in your life, afraid of the unknown?  Whatever it may be, in this moment when you let go and let His presence sweep you into the solitude of you and Him, feel the freedom of knowing He is with you as He guides your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and thoughts.

So often we feel stuck in the mundane of life.  We check the boxes on our to do lists and even the boxes in our faith.  One day, we wake up and feel something is missing in our life.

Each of us was born with a desire, a desire for God.  We fill this desire or longing, with money, sex, status, material things, etc.  There is always something missing, something more.  That something more is God.  He is the only one that can fully satisfy that desire.  He created us to desire a relationship with Him.  If we never establish it and try to fill this desire with other stuff, we will never be full, something will always be missing.

Faith Can Move Mountains

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Everyone has a story, some are hidden and some uncovered, some are joyful and some full of sadness. Most stories are filled with sprinkles of all. At the center of all these stories is God. With trust in God, there is no fear and the sadness is joyful. With trust, the story is not hidden but offered. In Matthew 17, Jesus tells His disciples if they have faith as small as a mustard seed, they can move mountains. I told this to my daughter one day and in her logical mind, she could not connect faith in God to be enough to move a mountain. Most of us struggle with the logical reasoning of human strength that would take to move a mountain. We would have to be Superman to do this. But the reality is that it’s not our human nature, it’s our faith that God can do it for us.

I’ve seen Him move mountains in my life as my faith began as a tiny mustard seed. In the depths of despair, I had little faith that grew into a lot of faith when a mountain was moved before my very eyes. This mountain was not made of rock although it felt as heavy as a rock as long as I carried it. This mountain consisted of fear, of pain, of helplessness, of shame, and of feelings of not being loved. One day the little faith I had, the small amount of hope moved it out of my way so that I could fulfill God’s journey in my life, so that joy could feel each ounce of that mountain and freedom that dwells in trust could prevail. I won’t say that little bits of this mountain doesn’t show up once in a while, like little hills or speed bumps, but God still does not disappoint and I can still move the hills and the speed bumps with the little seed of trust in the Divine Providence of my Heavenly Father. Try it, move your mountain with the faith and trust you have or acquire a small amount to move that mountain stopping you from being the “best version of yourself”, the person God created you to be.