Friday, October 2, 2015

"Getting Old - Do Not Disturb"

I feel like I have two girls living inside.

One is about 7 years old and has big ideas. Her dreams are bigger than her shoes but she doesn't care.

She's pretty clear about what she wants and there is nothing that can stop her because her imagination is the force within that drives her.  She would never tell you that because she's too young to know better. Dreaming is as natural as breathing. She doesn't give it a second thought. Decisions are easy. She does what pops into her head without thought of the future. It's all about the NOW.

The second girl is about 70 years old.

She's been through more things than you should ever take time to hear about. She has stepped out and taken some risks. Though most things have turned out ok, she's still sure that as she gets older, risks are too....well, um.....risky. Experience and fears (usually unfounded) make her less apt to dream. She could easily close up shop and hang a sign on the door:

"Getting Old - Do Not Disturb"

Yesterday I told my husband that the little girl in me seems to know exactly what to do, but the old woman in me rebukes me and starts talking me out of everything.

The older I get, the more I am trying to listen to the little girl inside. I think you reach a certain age where you start realizing that what you might lose is worth risking. (Please remind me of this the next time you see me freaking out).

I recently found myself wishing for a way to bring the two generations together - not just my two girls on the inside, but in society.

I was in Canada on a mini tour and one of the events I did was very small, but very rich. I'd go back again in a heartbeat. A group of mostly elderly gathered to sing hymns for a couple of hours. They were invited to pick their favorite songs and boy did we sing! When we weren't crying, that is. We ate a tasty lunch and then I did a concert for them. They laughed at "Silver Hair", my new parody of "Silver Bells".  It's not too early for Christmas these days.  It's all I think about as my big concert draws near.

I watched as they started blowing noses and wiping tears. I choked up. Some of them don't get to sing the old hymns any more. But they've lived life long enough that when they sing, they know from experience how true the words are. I found myself wishing the young people could experience this moment. I found myself wondering what I could do to join the vitality of youth, faith and zeal with the deep endurance of those who have lived long enough to be touched by the simplicity of faith.

The song leader and I are not yet fifty. We still have some youth left in us but we have been dancing with the symptoms of aging and we're getting a bit clumsy in our 'jig' as we navigate our forties. We can learn from those who have been there.

And likewise, I wish there was a way that the little girl in me could keep the old woman from caving in to ease and comfort. There must be a way for the old woman in me to nurture and guide the little girl who loves to dream.

Just like there must be a way for the younger generation to help the older ones remember how to dream. There must be a way for the older generation to speak wisdom and experience to the youth and catch them when they fall.

I think I'll keep my shop open for a while yet and I think I will change the sign:

"Getting Old - MOVE Out Of My Way"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Dream Map

One of my readers posted this on my Facebook page recently and I laughed out loud in response.

It's so true and it says everything I could ever try to say in a million posts.

This is a map showing you the reality of dreaming!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Voices Inside Your Head

If you are a human, you come built with voices inside your head.  They can be as quiet as a passing thought or as loud as someone shouting at you. We either listen to them or we silence them.  They can be replaced with new voices or we can simply give in to the negative ones we seem to be born with.

I'm not sure when they actually materialize, but it seems like they can actually get louder as we get older. After all, as we age we accumulate more experiences that threaten to validate the voices of fear and doubt we've heard.

"You didn't lose weight the last time you tried. Why try again? It's hopeless."

"You know what happened when you spoke up the last time!"

"You are such a loser. You'll never be able to pull this off!"

I recently created a little video for a project I'm working on with RocketHub.  It was meant to be funny and when I posted it on Facebook, it was obvious that it did make people laugh.

The truth is, there really is a "dream killer" in my head. It announces it's presence at the strangest times.

If voices in your head had a face, they might look like this.....

Click here to 'see the voices' in your head.

Portraits of White is a very big dream and I've had plenty of experience fighting off voices in my head that haunt me with doubt and fear. It's a very expensive endeavor - and not just financially. It's an emotional investment as I make myself vulnerable to the public. "The Tip Jar" RocketHub campaign is one way to let others know what I'm up to and have a chance to contribute toward this BIG dream!

When I stand on the stage December 12, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. to begin the concert, you will know that the voices in my head have been conquered.

Here's a tip I use:


Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Invisible Runner Inside You

She offered me her bike one day so that we could go cycling together.  I was elated because I had been praying for a bicycle for months and now she was offering one of hers for my use AND a chance to ride with a friend. That was the start of a new friendship.

Every Friday we started riding together.  Sometimes there were 3 or 4 of us gals and we had a blast! Newville, PA may be small, but it offers a wonderful bike trail right near my house.  I was enjoying this new friend and our exercise times together at 6:00 in the mornings, until.....

I got a text asking if I wanted to run together in the morning. That was different. I'm new to long distance running and I feel very shy about it. It's taken me all summer to build up enough endurance to run 35 minutes without stopping. I knew that she has been running a long time and is much more experienced.

I had so many fears, would I be able to keep up? Would I slow her down? What if she wanted to talk and expected me to participate? I can barely breathe, let alone talk!

I sweat buckets of rain when I run and I really didn't want her to see that.

It reminded of an experience years ago at a gym. I was getting tired of a young college guy who kept coming in and asking me if I wanted the fan on (it was mounted above us on the wall and I had turned it on earlier).  The mean side of me wanted to say "no, I just have it on to bug you - I really don't want the fan on, I just turn it on out of obligation". Then I pictured myself yelling...OF COURSE I WANT THE FAN ON!"  But I merely said, yes...I want the fan on.

After this kept happening, I went to the girl in charge at the gym and mentioned this to her.  She told me men don't want the fan on because they WANT to sweat - thinking they will lose more weight if they sweat.  If that's the case, I should be the size of a petite toothpick. I have them all beat with the way I I didn't really relish running with a friend.

At first, I said, no.  But since I'm already living on the edge with the big winter concert I'm planning, why not just keep trying new things in other areas of my life and be adventurous, I thought to myself. So I said, "sure - why not".

So I found myself running with a friend. I finally told her halfway through that I felt like I was going to die and asked if that was normal. Her hesitation made me nervous. But once she knew how I was feeling, she gave me some pointers. And they helped!

Immediately I thought about how much this experience felt like my walk with the Holy Spirit. He has been given to us to help us on our journey. We get shy about letting Him be a part of it sometimes because He will see and know everything embarrassing about us. But if we listen closely, He will give us tips along the way to help.

For instance, recently I was beginning to feel like my Portraits of White concert dream was becoming an avalanche, about to snow me under. One day I felt a gentle whisper: "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit" and with it came a sense of peace. I latched on to that and have been quoting it over and over to myself when I start feeling overwhelmed.

I smiled as I said to my new friend running easily beside me. You remind me of the Holy Spirit. Someone to run along side of us and help sustain us.

I lived through that run and here I am writing about it.

You may not be able to see the runner beside you, but He is there. Listen for Him. Respond to Him. He's not only beside you, He is INSIDE you.

What do you have in front of you that requires strength and power that you don't have? Ask for the Spirit to help you!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Dream House

Larry Moshell and Kecia Jones at ACT International, Nashville, TN
Kecia Jones has a vision to change the public education system in America.  I heard her speak in Nashville, TN last week while I was there. I'm not in public education, but I soon felt like I wanted to be, just because of her passion. She has a BIG dream and she's going after it with every bone in her body.

Lynn Brown, another passionate dreamer, stepped on to the stage and shared her vision to use arts as a way to help people in prison.  She didn't even know anyone in prison, yet she began to have a vision and has made it happen! Cellblock Creations was started to bring attention to the critical nature of conditions surrounding re-entry citizens that largely affect and may even determine the success or failure of their return to society. Cellblock Creations exists to address those critical needs.

Mary Gwyn Bowen wanted to combine her nursing, teaching and arts gifts into one and has started the Art To Heart project encouraging art as a way to help patients heal during their stay in hospitals.

Every afternoon we sat as various people with a love for art and a dream to make something happen shared their journey and what they are doing to change the world through music, dance, art, drama, painting, film, storytelling, theatre, etc. I felt like I was in a green house but it was actually a dream house.  

ACT International exists because one man had a vision to see the arts unleashed in the earth. I went to their seminar hoping to learn more about their organization but I came home reminded of the power of what happens when one person has a vision to use their gifts and abilities to dream and change the world.

It only fueled my passion to see others identify their passion/dream and take steps to see it through.

Is there a dream in your heart?

What is one thing you could do today toward stepping out and taking action?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

When God Turns Out The Light

Have you ever woken up to complete darkness?

I'm in Nashville attending a conference and this morning when I got up, it was dark. I got up early to attend a breakfast meeting before the conference.

"Chocolate Sin" from The Pancake Pantry in Nashville.
When I got up, an old song was running through my mind, so I began to sing it out loud.

"He touched me
oh, he touched me
and oh the joy that fills my soul
something happened and now I know
he touched me and made me whole"

I stopped mid-song and questioned why such an old song would come to my mind. It would be more appropriate for me to wake up singing Christmas songs since another reason I'm here is to work on the upcoming Christmas concert. I listened to much of the concert music on my way down here, making notes to review with the conductor as I drove.

I felt a gentle whisper say, "sing the verse".

"Shackled by a heavy burden
'neath a load of guilt and shame
then the hand of Jesus touched me
and now I am no longer the same"

The first two lines were a good description of some of the feelings I've been having these days....well, at least the 'shackled by a heavy burden' part.

I left the home where I'm staying and headed out for my day.  I had a feeling this song might be an indicator of what I might experience today, but I shrugged it off thinking I was a little too assuming.

Today I'm attending an event where I am doing nothing and no one knows who I am. I'm not introduced as the speaker or musician.  In fact, I can just say, "hi, I'm Frances" and be like everyone else. I'm taking time to sit and listen to others speak, sing and lead worship. A treat I rarely get!

You see, I've been desperately crying out to God about some things.  Some of them for years. My heart has been growing weary even though on many levels, I have much to be excited about - and I TRULY am!

But today, this Frances was a mess.  The first speaker of the day was supposed to be Dr. Neil Anderson. I figured he would be intellectual in his approach, or give a long list of ways to walk in freedom (just click on his name and you'll see the long, long list of books he has authored).

However, this gentle, elderly man stepped to the platform and began to tell us stories from his life. The first tear strolled unhurriedly down my cheek, determined not to leave, when he said there came a time when he felt as if "God turned out the light".  What?  This man who has written extensively on freedom, bondage breaking, etc., etc., feels like God turns out the light on him? But alas, instead of giving us 20 steps to freedom, he pulled on a loose thread in my soul and I was coming unraveled.  

Neil continued..... "Right now, the light has been turned out again". Seems like God flips the switch often for him. His wife has dementia and now has to stay in skilled care in a nursing center.  Many days he goes to sit beside her and just 'be' with her.  He feels like her light will never come back on, in this life. It's a new season for him.

My husband and I need a miracle.  Due to a genetic condition (that he seemed to acquire a most severe case of) our lives feel a bit dark at times. It affects his hands to the point where holding small tools are becoming increasingly difficult for him. This isn't good for someone who is self-employed and uses those tools daily. 

We wonder what the future holds for us as he notices deterioration that seems to be speeding up these days. I've cried out to God many times on his behalf and I know that our voices harmonize together as we ask God to change our circumstances and guide us through this time. 

It felt good to hear from someone else today who is further down the road as he stopped to share some of his struggles along the way due to his seasons of darkness. I cried for him and I cried for me. 

I cry for you because I know what some of your struggles are from talking to you. Your's are different, but we can all relate to feeling like the light has been turned off. 

Here are a few key phrases he shared this morning that might be helpful:

God turns out the light

Never doubt in darkness what God has shown you in the light

Never make a big decision when you are down

Don’t create your own light

Don’t instruct those who weep......just weep with them

Morning comes

Isaiah 21:11-12 The Message (MSG)

A Message concerning Edom:

A voice calls to me
    from the Seir mountains in Edom,
“Night watchman! How long till daybreak?
    How long will this night last?”
The night watchman calls back,
    “Morning’s coming,
But for now it’s still night.
    If you ask me again, I’ll give the same answer.”

God turns on the light

Frothy Monkey, Franklin, TN
I'm sitting here at the Frothy Monkey in Franklin, TN as I write this blog.  

The first time I was here was to meet my performance coach whom I had a dream of working with for over ten years. I was terribly excited to actually see that dream come true.

The last time I was here, my husband was with me and we were sitting on this very porch enjoying coffee together after riding our motorcycles to TN for our 25th wedding anniversary. Then my phone rang and it was my brother calling to let me know that our mother was in the hospital with a perforated ulcer.  This began her decline and she died over a week later.  We cut our trip short so we could be with her before she died.

I have mixed feelings when I come to this little cafe now.  Joy from seeing a dream come true. Joy because my husband got to come and experience my favorite town with me. Sadness as I recall the sinking feeling in my stomach when my brother called. Was God turning the light out on us again?




Whether the light is on or off, we must hold steady to what we know and believe. Morning comes.

I don't know what you might be facing today.  I hope that this has given you some encouragement. May you have faith and courage until the light shines again. May you stand strong, even in the darkness. May you wake up with a song, in the morning.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dreams Are Like Clouds

Personally, I think dreams are like clouds.  You look up and gasp at their beauty and their ominous presence. You wonder what it would be like to reach them.  To touch them. Experience them up close. It would be like walking on air, you think! 

Then you get up close and personal with them and they no longer feel like clouds....more like fog. They are ominous alright!  What were you thinking?

I've experienced that in an airplane. Up ahead I'd see some amazing cloud formations but once we'd enter into them, it was more like fog and we couldn't see anything. We had to trust the pilot to lead us through them. Sometimes we even encountered turbulence. No one likes turbulence, at least none that I know of. 

I'm experiencing the same thing as I pursue my dreams. They looked great from a distance. But sometimes I have to fly through the fog.  It's the passion that keeps me going.

Fill in the blank and answer this question (to yourself). "If I could just _________ then I would know I have reached my dream."  That's the white, puffy cloud you are viewing from a distance.  Once you start out to pursue that dream, remember there will be times you encounter fog and turbulence.  Financial setbacks, illness and fear are just the starters for turbulence.

The machine you built on the ground, before you took off for the clouds, must be built to sustain the journey through the bumpy, foggy times.  What is your plane built out of?

Here are a few things I'd suggest for materials to sustain you through the hard, less passionate times.

1.) Patience....there's no way to avoid it. You'll need lots of it.

2.) Prayer.....especially lots of 'listening' time.  

3.) Pictures....keep the pictures of the end result (the beautiful clouds) in front of you - it will help you remember why you're building the plane in the first place.

4.) People.....make sure you have surrounded yourself with people who believe in you.

5.) have to keep going. No matter what.

6.) better have a good dose of this toward your dream!

I dream of having a red convertible corvette with white or tan leather seats. But it's not something I'm so passionate about that it's taking up brain space like the Christmas concert is. I'm really passionate about music and audiences.  Therefore, I make my decisions based on that priority. 

If I want a red corvette, then I'd need to set goals and work toward saving for one, but it's not a dream that matters that much to me. In fact, pursuing the dream I'm most passionate about means giving up some of the this one....
So when you are reaching for the clouds, just know that though the sky is the limit, even the sky has some difficulties.  

Build your dream to last.