Thursday, July 23, 2015

In What Ways Does God Give You Dream Clues?

This was one of the questions asked by a reader from my recent post Dream Clues. I thought you might benefit from the answers. I find a new passion is developing in me - to see others fulfill their dreams.  Is there such a thing as a dream coach? This blog is the start of something else unfolding.

I am certainly not an expert in these things, but I have learned a few helpful points along the way and I'm still learning. I'll share what I know so far.  

When I was as a child, I could sometimes feel the electricity of my dreams. 

For instance, I would sing on the door step looking out over the landscape of our buckeye tree, the swing in that tree and the lane going past the barn down to the road. I could sense that I was tapping into something futuristic, though ominous. There were no distinct lines or clues defining what it would be exactly. It's only in looking back that I can see how significant those moments really were because of how my life has unfolded. They were very connected to what I do now, without me realizing it.

So back to the first question the reader asked.  Since this was a personal question, I'll use mostly personal examples. 

In what ways does God give you dream clues?

1) Other people:

  • Someone else points out your abilities.  
Everyone in my immediate family seems to remember that I had a gift for picking things up by ear on the piano, but it was an Aunt who actually spoke it out loud and encouraged my mother to have me study with a teacher.

2) Your desires:

  • A desire that just doesn't go away.  
I was too young to voice or know my desires for doing shows or playing the piano. I simply did what felt natural to me. However, someone from the outside saw it and identified it. 

But as I've grown older, many things I'm doing now have stemmed from a growing desire and unfading longing. As a result, I've taken private lessons/coaching for voice, guitar, drums, songwriting, performance, etc. and loved every single lesson. I use those tools now.

More recently, I took up figure skating. Still pondering the significance of that, but I know if I would not have suffered an injury that , I would still be pursuing it.

3) Childhood interests:

  • What fascinated you as a child?
  • I didn't play chess when I was little.  I lined up the chess pieces like a choir and had them sing. 
  • I didn't just ice skate, I took my boom box out to the pond and made up routines to the music. 
  • I didn't just take piano lessons and participate in recitals, I wanted to do my own music recitals which included inviting my friends and having snacks afterward.  It became a concert AND a social event.

4) Your Soul Stirs Within You When:

  • You see someone else doing something similar to your dream.
One of the biggest motivators in deciding to do the Portraits of White Christmas concert was watching a documentary of the early years in Taylor Swifts's career. Her story so impacted me that I remember getting up off the couch that night, after watching it, and determining that if Taylor could make her own way and follow her heart, after she was turned away by the music industry, then so could I. 

And so can you! 

Sometimes our clues are that simple. 

Reflect on your childhood and things you did that weren't the typical way a child would act or think. 

A friend of mine told me recently that her daughter was unique in her preferences as a child....always putting things in order; did not like things getting scratched or messed up. If she took things out, they would go back in the same order and not just thrown in the box. Things were ordered by color, size, or shape when she played.  She also would create plots with her Barbies, as if they were in a story! Even her bookshelf in her room is categorized by either author or genre. 

Clues are simply sign posts along the way. Stop and take note of them as often as you can.

Do you have questions or comments about dreams and the pursuit of them?  I'd love to hear from you in the comment box below!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dream Clues

Dreams were meant to grow up and mature.

Explode with excitement.

Come to fruition.

But they don't all make it to the end or turn out exactly like we first envisioned them.

However, it's in the dreaming, trying and working that we grow and mature, no matter the outcome of the original dream.

I loved putting on shows when I was little.  My family was my audience and the living room was my stage.  I loved playing the piano. It's easy to dream when you are little.

Frances at age 3.
But how do you go from being the little 3 year old with an imagination to actually doing what you always dreamed of doing or even just getting in touch with the dreams you had as a child when life has taken over and controls your time?

Frances at age 48.
Ask yourself these questions and you will discover some clues:
  • What causes you to lose all sense of time and fear?  Listen to your heart in those moments.
  • What would you do for free just because you love it? Do it so well for free that others pay you to do it.
  • Who are you when no one is looking and you are totally unencumbered with doubt and timidity? That's a clue!
  • Use every present opportunity to practice at what you dream of doing.
So here I go again - doing another Portraits of White winter concert. A dream in the making. 

Please share it with your friends.

Then come and dream with me.

Buy your tickets here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Robot or Rag Doll?

I think I'd make a great robot.  I like systems, disciplines, routines, predictability, codes....tell me the formula for a perfect life and I'll apply it.  Print out my dreams, accomplishments and prove why these formulas work.

Then someone cuts a wire.....blows my fuse....erases the formulas, hacks into my brain and I end up more like a rag doll. No control, no backbone.  I wilt beneath life's heavy hand.

I saw an illustration of this first-hand on Sunday. Being a singer/songwriter takes me to interesting places and this past weekend I sang at this lovely church in Harrisburg, PA.          

They called the children up to the front to sit on the royally red colored carpet to listen to a story. I often smile when I see this, because usually, the adults get as much out of these little talks as the children.  But I got a totally different message out of it.

The children came to the front and seated themselves on the steps.  The little girls were prim and proper.  They raised their hands out of respect and waited to be acknowledged before they spoke, almost like robots that do all the right things at the right times. They acted like me.

Just as everyone settled into their spots and the story was underway, a little boy came running down the aisle and plopped himself face down, sprawled out, across the steps. I giggled to myself at the difference between this little boy and the other children. 

Then I stopped giggling.  I felt like him.

In reality, I was jealous of this little boy.  I tend to approach God like the little girls who were doing their best to be everything they were supposed to be.  Remember their manners, sit up straight, spew out the right answers in robotic fashion.

But the little boy was more like a rag doll who just couldn't sit up straight no matter how hard he tried.  He was himself, through and through. No pretensions, no hiding behind propriety. He came just as he was and didn't seem to care what anyone thought of him.

There is a song recorded by Next-2-Nothing, one of my favorite bands, that stopped me in my robotic tracks a few years ago.  I felt hopeless because I just couldn't get my wires connected enough to function perfectly.  I still get caught in the trap of thinking I have to be perfect when I approach my heavenly Father.  I am learning that I can come just as I am and find grace and mercy.

One of the lines in the song gave me a reboot that I desperately needed.
"If you tarry till you're better, you will never come at all." 
- J. Hart
Yes sirree - that's me.  I will wait until I'm perfect before I come.  But that means I'll never come.

I went home that day and flopped down in God's presence and cried. No formulas, 12 steps to healing, fasting, disciplines....just tears and brokenness.  In that place, I began to find strength and healing.

Now don't get me wrong, when it comes to most things, I prefer the robot. Take my motorcycle for instance. It better function like a robot. Turn on key, engage the throttle and va I go. Please don't sit there like a rag doll and cry because "I just can't function today". I need it to work. But when I go to the mechanic to maintain my motorcycle, I want him to have the attitude of the rag doll.  Soft, pliable, easy to talk to, even sit on the floor and cry with me when it's not working right. But in the end, I want him to get up, fix the issue and let me keep on riding.

So for me, I guess it's all in the attitude. There are times for backbone and routines, but when it comes to my heart, I want it to be soft and pliable.

Feeling like you could use some encouragement? Sit back and let this beautiful song speak peace and grace.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nobody Sees? Think Again!

You have dreams in your heart. 

Ideas in your mind. 

When no one is looking, you imagine the way things could be if you were given the chance.

You think nobody sees.  

The truth is, Someone knows AND sees.

He created you. He knows how you were formed, before you were even born.

I was driving to Ohio years ago to visit a couple of radio stations playing a current single we had just released. I drove for six hours without listening to anything. I so desperately needed to hear from God about my music career. Things were shifting and I needed some advice. Perhaps if I just listened He would speak.

"You are trying to put on Saul's armor".  That's all the still small voice said.

I went home from that trip and started to study the life of King David from I Samuel in the Bible since that's the story from which the phrase originated. I'm still gathering wisdom from it and writing music as a result of my studies, and still searching for how that story applies to my own life.

As I was studying one day, I read the part of the story where the prophet Samuel was choosing who the next king would be from a family of boys.  When none of them met God's approval, Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons.  As if David was an afterthought, Jesse replied, "yes - there is David, but he's out tending the sheep".

"Go get him!" was Samuel's reply.  David's day had come. As soon as David appeared, Samuel knew he was the one.

But how many years had David spent minding his own business out in the fields? Protecting the lambs from lions and bears. Developing his musical skills, his courage, his prayer life.

Finally, somebody saw.

Hang in there.  Somebody sees you too.

What to do while you wait:

1.) Focus on what you have in your hand right now. Your current job and your abilities, no matter how small.
2.) Pray daily that the Kingdom of God will come into your life and prepare you for what He has in store for you.
3.) Be faithful with every opportunity you are given, even if it's not what you imagine it should be.
4.) Seek Him in the quiet place.  Frequently. Wait on Him. Keep focused on Him and nothing else.
5.) Commit your way to Him and open your hands before Him representing a posture of surrender.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Embrace The Suck

"Does it ever get any easier?" I asked the two runners I had just met on the trail as we stopped to exchange greetings.

I'd been increasing my exercise routine weekly and was now up to running 35 minutes straight.  I was huffing and puffing as we talked.

"If you never push yourself, yes, it will get easier.  If you just continue at the same pace though, you won't gain much", said the one who looked like she was an experienced runner.

"It sucks no matter what you do", said the other girl who seemed to be sweating and huffing, like me.  I could relate to her.

"JUST EMBRACE THE SUCK" she finally said with a sigh and a frown.  We all laughed.

Yep.  Anytime we try to reach for our dreams, calling, desires...whatever we think we were created to do, there are times when it just sucks.  

Using the running analogy, it's rarely 'fun' to get up at 5:00 a.m., pray, eat some protein and then head out to the trail by 6:00 a.m.  I feel like I'm going to die most of the run.  Every day I feel like I just can't make it but I keep going. I sweat like a rainstorm and breathe heavy like a dragon minus the fire coming out my nostrils. I've never been a long distance runner so it's taking me a while to build up stamina.

When I am finished with this self-inflicted torture, the pay-off is worth it.  My mind is having a hay day and the good chemicals in my brain are being released.  I write songs, blogs, plan concerts, design merchandise and get new marketing ideas - all while I'm dying in my body.  

There's another payoff to all of least when it comes to exercise.  I am losing weight.  My clothes are fitting better AND I'm heading toward reaching one of my many goals for the Christmas show in December.

Do I love getting up early to work on my goals?  Nope.
Do I love sweating a flood worth of water when I run? Nope.
Do I hurt when I get back? Yep.
Do I like when my jeans fit better? Yep.
Do I like the creativity my mind engages in while I exercise? Absolutely!

Do you want to win at what you think you were created to be and do?'re gonna have to...ya know...embrace the suck.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Are Your Privacy Settings Safe?

None of us like the idea of our lives being available for the public to see.  We like our privacy.  I meet many people who still don't want to participate in Facebook because of the fear they have of their privacy being violated.  

A close neighbor was robbed while she was out on her daily walk...right in prime daylight. How did they know her schedule? I found this very unsettling!

There is a distinct difference between someone knowing everything about you without your permission and slowly lifting the veil of your life in front of a friend, allowing them to peer into the depths of your heart.  

In Psalm 139, David opens a conversation with God by saying "O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.  Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking."

Part way through this acknowledgement that God knows exactly who he is, he continues....

"You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You as I took shape in secret, carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb."

But right near the end of the chapter, he invites God to know him.

"Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Examine me to see if there is an evil bone in me, and guide me down Your path forever."  (The Voice)

I find it interesting that sandwiched between an opening acknowledgement of being known by God and closing permission granted to be examined by God is a listing of all the things God knew about David.  Why then, does he give God permission to know him at the end?  Doesn't God already know him? Didn't he just spend a lot of breath stating the obvious?

I believe it's significant.

Yes, God knows every detail of our lives.  Our birthdate, our death date.  How many hairs we have (or don't have).

When I choose the "public" option on my Facebook settings, I am agreeing to let everyone see everything I post.  I am opening myself up to their compliments and scrutiny. If I don't want that kind of vulnerability, I need to choose "private".

Giving God complete access to every area of our heart is like choosing the "public" option.  Oh yes - He already knows us.  But giving Him permission to really know us means that we are agreeing to let Him in.

So here's how I often pray......"Father, you know the hopes and dreams I hold inside.  You see the plans I am making based on desires I believe you have placed inside me.  But today, I give you permission to oversee them.  To put them in order according to Your plans.  Look inside me and see everything there is to see.  Search my intentions...and then show me.  I open my hands to You as symbol that my heart and life are completely open."

Your privacy settings ARE safe with God.  Giving Him permission is like choosing the 'public' setting though.  You are now taking everything to a new level of trust with Him.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Everyone Needs A Set of These!

We all need them.

You can't grow in faith and courage without them.

I call them hearing aids. But not the kind you might be thinking of.

What kind of hearing aids?

They can come in the form of podcasts, audible books, paper books, mp3 players, movies, CDs and radio waves, etc.

They are tools that produce words that help us 'hear' better.

"So then, faith comes to us by hearing the Good News. And the Good News comes by someone preaching it." Romans 10:17 New Life Version.

What do you hear?

All day long I hear things.  Positive words.  Negative words.  They are inside me and also come from outside of me. Twenty minutes of listening to the news and I can instantly feel depressed, or elated. It depends on the message.

Over time, I'm learning how to tune into stations broadcasting words that bring faith and hope. I wish I could say that I don't need help with my thoughts and that my faith was always strong and steady. Truth is, I'm just not there yet, though I am improving.  I am learning how to choose what I will listen to, think on and ponder.  Both on the inside and from the outside.

Choosing good hearing aids.

It's easier to control my thoughts and feed my faith when I listen to uplifting things.  So I choose them often.  Music, podcasts, books...things that always leave me feeling like I CAN instead of I CAN'T.  Left to my own devices, I will tend toward thinking I CAN'T.  

So I'm not ashamed to say that I need hearing aids.  

When my Mother was being fitted for a pair of high-tech hearing aids, I was intrigued by the testing they did on her to find out what frequencies she couldn't hear.  Everyone is different.  Some lose ability to hear bass frequencies first. Others lose the mid-range.

Many people put off getting a set of hearing aids until they can't function in society anymore and realize they need assistance.  They miss out on so much because they won't admit they need help. But how many of us go through life emotionally or mentally deaf and wait until we are too far gone to get help for other kinds of hearing.

Everyone is different in the aid that they need.  Some tend more toward negative thoughts when it comes to fears.  Others have a deficit in the area of love or joy. 

Do you have ideas about leading a group of people toward healing from past relational issues?  Then listen to things that teach you about leadership and be inspired to lead others.

Do you need help getting your life organized?  Listen to books or podcasts that teach you how to manage your time.

Do you need an overall better outlook on life?  Listen to positive, upbeat music. Change the playlist until you find what feeds you!

If you would spend any amount of time with me, you would quickly learn that I am almost always listening to something.  I invest plenty of time in being quiet too, but when I'm exercising or driving or even working in the yard, I will be listening and learning.  It feeds my faith.  It helps me be a better leader.  It helps me dream and sustain those dreams.

It's my own tailored set of hearing aids.  

Want to grow in your faith?  You have to hear the right things!

Go get yourself some hearing aids.