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Deep Thought Thursday…Dreaming Someone Else’s Dream

I remember my first introduction to Jane Austen. It was 1996. I was 21, and studying abroad in Derbyshire. The guy I was dating took me to see Emma. The Gweneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam version, obviously. Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightly. Sigh. I loved him instantly. He was my favorite Austen man until I encountered Rupert Penry-Jones’s Captain Wentworth. But I digress….

That same semester my friends and I went to see Pride and Prejudice (in a play form). Who is this Jane Austen? I must check her out.

I remember hearing about Jane Austen’s life for the first time. Realizing she died young. No spouse. No kids. I thought to myself, how sad. This amazing woman left behind no descendants to carry on her legacy. To someone who is passionate about family tree research I was devastated on her behalf.

And honestly she lived the fate I feared.

I wanted to be an Austen heroine…like Anne Eliot who lands her soul mate Captain Wentworth. All the Austen heroines win the man of their particular dreams. The one that uniquely fits them.

With that perspective, I could never understand why Jane chose to be a spinster. To devote herself to writing and to being Cassandra’s (her sister) companion after her fiancée dies. She could have been married and still been a writer.

What I didn’t understand was that, she couldn’t have been the writer she became, had she chosen to keep her engagement. Not in the 1700’s.

When I read her books and watched the movies, I saw all the heroines finding the dream man, so they could get married and have children. How sad that she didn’t get that happily ever after she gave to her heroines. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I was really upset about it.

Growing up, all the women who influenced my life had between 2 and 12 children. My mom. My grandmothers. My aunts. Great aunts. Great Grandmothers. They were mothers first. Everything else in their lives came 2nd and beyond. So my dream as far back as I can remember was to be a wife & mother. I went to college planning on that life. I graduated from college planning that life. I waited for that life. For that dream to come true.

What I realized is that I wasn’t really upset about Jane’s life, she made her choices. What I was really afraid of was not having kids myself.

I turned 28. 32. 37. Then 42. At 42, the rubber hit the road, and I began to grieve. I began to grieve the death of the dream of having children. I grieved it like it truly died. I ugly cried. For months. I never told anyone or talked about it. But I felt it, I assure you. I battled the depression that accompanied this grief for months and months.

At this same time, God asked a friend of mine to pray for me. After a while, God invited her to approach me about it. She asked me how I was doing with the no kids thing. I sobbed again. She continued to pray. I am so grateful for my friends who cover me in prayer, they are gifts.

A few weeks before I turned 43, I had a stunning revelation…I never got what I didn’t want.

What?

The truth is that I wanted children because I was raised in an environment where kids are loved and valued. So I love and value the kids in my life. You only have to know me about 15 minutes before you start hearing about my favorite people in the world, my nieces, nephews, and lil cousins. They are my people.

But I never actually wanted to have kids. I was stunned. I just grieved a dream to the point of depression…for a dream that wasn’t even my own? Really?

How does that happen? How do we acquire dreams that are actually someone else’s? Or someone else’s dream for us?

It happens with kids and sports or ivy league schools, parents living vicariously through their kids. Thinking they’re giving their kids what they never had, but maybe not asking if this is what the kid wants.

No one pushed this dream on me. My mom’s always believed I could be or do anything I wanted. She’s never put her will on me. Not ever.

This was on me.

I didn’t want to ask myself what I really wanted, because I was afraid. Afraid to know what the answer was…afraid to fail, afraid to succeed…because people would expect things of me. Afraid of leading, because what if no one followed.

So in truth, my not being married young, or having kiddos, was the protection of God. Because He knows me. Because He designed me.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.” Psalm 139:1-6 TPT

God knows me better than I know me. Never have I ever been so grateful for ths fact.

I am designed for partnership with Jesus. I am designed for a partnership with a spouse. I am not designed to be a mother in the traditional sense.

My jaw dropped at this revelation. I processed this revelation for weeks and weeks. How is it possible that I don’t want kids?

Who doesn’t want kids? Isn’t that selfish? Abnormal?

How does a person leave a legacy without having kids?

Who will remember me when I’m gone if my family tree ends with me?

Then God showed me something that left me speechless for quite some time…You’re not designed to be an Austen heroine, you’re designed to be a Jane Austen.

Wait, what?

No, I’m not declaring myself to be the new Jane Austen. I’m Jill not Jane.

But God used her life to show me there’s more than one way to have an impact on generations.

Jane was a brilliant author. She wrote stories that are still impacting generations. Maybe it was intentional on her part or maybe it is just how things worked out, but she stands forever as an example that being a wife and a mother is not the only way a woman can have purpose. In her time a woman had two options, marriage or poverty accompanied by shame. Women deserve the right to choose God’s best for them. She used her God given intelligence, wit, and humor to craft incredible stories. That was Jane’s purpose. It wasn’t motherhood.

Then it clicked! I finally got it.

A legacy of words…

That is my actual dream.

That is my actual heart.

That is the legacy I want!

I want to craft stories that people still want to read or watch in 200 years. I want to leave words that inspire. Words that give hope and encourage. Words that reveal the love of the Father, and the greatness of Jesus. Words that remind people that being human is the best there is in all of creation. We were created in God’s image! Nothing else in all of creation was given that honor. I could go on here, but that is not the point of today’s post.

The point is that like Jane, I am a story teller. I can’t help it. It is who I am. I am a scribe. A writer. A lover of words. My purpose is to create stories. I’m still trying to process all of this because I still am stunned by this revelation.

Stunned. But free. For the first time, really free.

I’m not quite sure what to do with all this as I’m still processing…but be assured that writing is my priority. My goal is to write something every day. Blog. Short story. Work on a chapter of one of my longer stories. Send encouraging texts.

We were all created with eternity in mind, and we all have a purpose. One isn’t better or worse. One isn’t greater or lesser. All the body of Christ is important and absolutely necessary. Embrace who God made you to be, and how you are wired. The world needs you to be your authentic self, not a copy of someone else.

I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! – Ephesians 1:18 TPT

Point to ponder while you wander…

Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” Ephesians 3:20 TPT

P.S. To all the parents out there…You have a tough job and I commend you for your consistency. I respect you for loving, disciplining, and raising those little humans day in and day out. It’s not easy. But they are worth it. You are a hero. Hang in there!!

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Seasons

One of my favorite verses on seasons is this one: “The season has changed, the bondage of your barren winter has ended, and the season of hiding is over and gone. The rains have soaked the earth and left it bright with blossoming flowers.” Song of Songs 2:11-12 TPT

It is full of hope that the long believed for promises of God will come to pass soon. I have some of those promises. I know it’s the season for some of them to come to pass with all that I am. But I can’t see them, YET.

So I was thinking about this verse because today is April 10th, and this is what it looks like in my yard right now…

image

Seasons. Sigh. Just when you think winter has passed and you have moved forward into spring…it snows. For days. And the wind blows. And the temperature stays at a frosty 29 degrees….rather than the 60 degrees it should be in the beginning of April.

What’s my point? Well it’s certainly not to complain about the weather!

When we get close to a promise being fulfilled or achieving a goal, that’s sometimes the hardest time of the waiting period. Many people give up right before their breakthroughs simply because it snows in April.

When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing. But when at last your dream comes true, life’s sweetness will satisfy your soul.” Proverbs 13:12 TPT

Point to ponder while you wander…”The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT

The very snow causing you to want to quit, may very well be the snow sent to water the seed. In other words, that irritating circumstance, sad event, trouble, job loss, etc, may be the very thing that positions you for promotions, increase and promises fulfilled.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” Romans 5:5-6 NLY

Wonderful Wednesday: Don’t Stop Believing

Don’t stop believing!!

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 NIV

Running low on strength to persevere?

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He trains me for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me.” Psalm 18:32 & 34-35 NIV

To be still and know that He is God requires you to believe Him not just believe in Him.

Do you believe He will do what He says He will do? Do you believe He is a God of His word? Do you believe  He is faithful.

If you’re struggling with believing Him, I recommend two things. 1. Worship. Nothing reminds me of who God is and His faithfulness more than worship music. 2.  Study the lives of those mentioned in Hebrews 11, their perseverance, their relationship with God, and God’s faithfulness to them.

Something to ponder while you wander…true perseverance means no matter what you see or feel, you don’t stop believing God.

Not Moved By Circumstances

There’s a difference between knowing in your head that God’s able to be your rock, salvation, defense, provision, refuge, strength, and etc. . . and standing firm in that knowledge no matter what your circumstances look like.  I turn to the Psalms a majority of the time when I am stressed out or my circumstances are not so hot.  David went through a lot of trials and he is a good example on how to vent your emotions and then declare what the Lord says over your circumstances.  David also shows us how not to be swayed in the wind by every single thing that happens to us and around us.  Even when the thing happening to us originated with someone close to us.

Here is the first two verses of Psalm 62:

Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.” (NKJV)

The I shall not be “greatly” moved, to me, is like saying I am really bothered by this but I will not let it wreck me.  It’s the knowing in your head that God is for you.  Biblical scholars believe that King David wrote Psalm 62 during the time of his son Absalom’s rebellion (Beginning in II Samuel 15).  I can see how the first few verses could be written during the events of II Samuel 15:13-14:

Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”  So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” (NKJV)

This beginning of this Psalm is David’s way of convincing himself that God is still for him and not against him.  It’s David remembering what God had done and in his head asking, “God’s still for me, right?”

Later in II Samuel 15:25-29, David tests that theory by sending the Ark of Covenant back to Jerusalem.

Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”  The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.  See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.” (NKJV)

It is then, I believe that David chose to stand and declare “I WILL WAIT RIGHT HERE FOR THE LORD AND I WILL NOT BE MOVED BY THIS!”  It’s when his head knowledge became practical and he decided to stand no matter what.  Believing that God would defend him.  Then David wrote verses 5-7:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.” (NKJV)

David continued on with verse 8, reminding all of us that we can fully trust God at all times.  No matter the circumstances.

“Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.” (NKJV)

God did deliver David from Absalom’s rebellion and he continued to rule the people for the rest of his life.

I Shall Not Be Moved

I know that I haven’t done Musical Monday in a while, so today I’m going to give you a two-fer.  One is old school and the other is a few years old and my on-going theme song.

Old school classic:  I Shall Not Be Moved sung by Mr. Johnny Cash.

This song is sourced from Psalm 1 and/or Jeremiah 17 (which quotes Psalm 1). Biblical scholars believe that this Psalm was written to Rehoboam from his father, Solomon, as he was about to succeed him as king.  It warns Rehoboam to choose God’s way, and what will most likely happen to him if he does not.  Solomon had been led astray by several of his wives and he did not want his son to repeat his errors.

I am a big fan of the Prophet Jeremiah’s flare so here’s Jeremiah 17:5-8 NKJV:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Your bonus song is my theme song.  I know I’ve posted it before, but like I said, it’s my theme song.  So here is the lovely Ms. Natalie Grant singing I Will Not Be Moved.

Like everything else, you choose how you react to things.  Choose to be still and know that He is God, even if Monday is attempting to take you down.  Choose to remain planted in His promises.

Action Required

I was lamenting (also known as whining and complaining) to God yesterday that not being able to do anything about a situation in my life was torturous.

As I was waking up this morning (literally only had one eye half open) He told me that I am doing something, I’m being still and trusting Him.

He explained that faith always requires action. Sometimes that action is getting out of the boat when He bids me to come. (Read Peter’s story in Matthew 14:25-32) But sometimes the action is being still. Both are actions. Both are equally challenging.

Choosing to trust God and waiting on Him is walking by faith just as getting out of the boat and stepping onto the water is walking by faith. Both require believing and trusting God.

Being still isn’t passive. It’s active. It’s praying. It’s believing and trusting God. Being still means knowing that God is for you. It’s perseverance in long waiting periods. It’s maintaining your hope, joy and peace even when you cannot see beyond today.

When I got out of bed I flipped my verse of the day calendar to today’s verse. Guess what the verse was about today? Yep. Waiting on God.

“I wait for the Lord my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for morning, more than watchmen wait for morning.” Psalm 130:5-6

I’ve prayed that you will know for certain if are to do something specific or to be still in your present circumstance and situation. I pray that no matter the action required or how long it takes that you will be able to maintain your peace and joy.

Hold Your Peace

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14

The Hebrew word used for be still can also mean- hold your peace, rest, cease & hold your tongue. If you want the Lord to provide a way though like He did for Moses & the Israelites, you need only be still and let Him fight.