Posts filed under tomorrow's dreams

mind the cape.

I think it is dangerous to let go of your dreams or tweak your dreams for other people, even people who are hurting and suffering. We think it is virtuous and admirable, but I have to believe we are wrong. You must, at all costs, be true to the dreams inside you, even the seemingly selfish ones. You must go after them, unpack them, peel the layers apart and go deeper into them. Wrestle with them. Wrestle with the One that wrote them on your heart. You must know yourself - tomorrow's dreams today

we sat around a table yesterday with friends. the city skyline in the distance, our laughter ricocheting off the window, our conversation quickly turned to dreams. it often does with this tribe.

russ spoke up, "it's been something i struggled with for awhile - this question of whether or not i'm being selfish with my dream. it doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice."

i smiled and grabbed his hand, knowing the tension of his words. there's a lot of poor theology centered on dream-catching and dream-sacrificing with the mask of helping other people. i know this because i've experienced it. i know this because i'm living it.

i'm a raging people-pleaser, your proverbial "good-girl" who doesn't like to ruffle any feathers. i think perhaps this is why mandy's eBook affected me so deeply, why my secret rebel friends make my blood pulse nervous and excited. i'm not used to thinking for myself.

if i'm not careful, the damn cape of expectations can reach out and strangle me before i know it. 

i'm learning what it means to take your dreams as your own. i'm learning the Truth of finding that which makes us come alive - that which was written into the fabric of who we are as individuals. i'm learning this is good and right and true and essential for the healing of not only my heart but those around me.

after russ admitted his hesitancy in pursuing a dream, one of the men nodded his head. "i get that. i really do. but...think of it this way: not everyone can meet others' needs and fill their soul through cooking." he looked at me. "not everyone can write a 94,000 word novel. you guys can. and this? this is your ministry. pursuing it will bring healing to others."

something in my heart woke a little to his words. see? she whispered. i told you. 

and i think in that moment i decided to start listening.

what about you? do you suffer from the cape mentality? are you tweaking your dreams for other people's approval?

**image source :: found on pinterest, photographer unknown

Posted on February 29, 2012 and filed under tomorrow's dreams.

the dreaded blanket of foolishness.

when i knew God was telling us to adopt, i fought Him for two months. it made no sense.

for almost two years, it'd been my dream to grow our family through adoption, and the moment i felt Him say, "okay. now you start." i started laughing and twiddling my thumbs like a nervous grade school boy. i refused to move.

there were too many excuses - the biggest one being money. it's just foolish! i would counter His nudges and He would shake His head, tap my heart with his finger, and wait for me to obey.

that was a year and a half ago.

now, in the middle of our process, i still don't know where all the money will come from.

but i stopped believing in the foolishness of the dream and i jumped. i listened to my soul speak, recognized His voice, and took the step.

and from that very first step, every one of our needs have been met.

i couldn't help but think of this example as i read mandy's words this week. it's been a long one - last minute home study, unforeseen sickness and raging cabin fever. reading over more of the excuses crystallized a lot of what i've been feeling lately - particularly holding my dream close against those who may find it foolish.

paired with this is the ever-present demon of perfection. it makes sense to wait. it makes sense to buy into the lie that everything must be perfect in order to work well.

but if i do this, i miss the miracle of grappling with messiness. and i'm beginning to see the beauty of this unpredictability. it would have made sense for russ and i to wait and save enough for our entire adoption. if were to have done that, though, we would have missed the beauty of seeing God provide. we would have missed the lean-in to dirty faith and realizing that still small voice telling you to jump really does mean something.

question for you :: are you willing to grapple with messiness? 

next week - part 3 of tomorrow's dreams today. 

Posted on February 22, 2012 and filed under tomorrow's dreams.

{the marginal excuse}

during the week, my schedule gets crazy fast. before i know it, it's wednesday and i'm on the downhill slide toward the weekend. the weekend has become my refuge for creating. i'll shut the door to our room, turn on some music and let the words flow. i'll spend time cleaning {because this is more therapeutic than i'd like to admit} and let the motion of scrubbing the tub or sweeping the floor move my mind to another place.

it's life-giving, really. weekends are when i do my most dreaming. weekends remind me that life is more than just a five-day work week. and at the end of sunday night, i hesitate with looking forward to the busy-ness of the coming week.

this is where i focused my attention when reading about the marginal excuse.

in mandy's eBook, she talks about the excuse of i just don't have the time and you know what? it's always less about the time and more about priorities.

sometimes, these priorities are legitimate. but most of the time, our priorities reveal a slow crawl to mediocrity.

one of the things that stuck out the most was her explanation of making an excuse invalid. a few years ago, i participated in nanowrimo myself. it's actually where i wrote the bulk of come alive. for awhile, i had a system to continue the discipline into the week. russ was often gone in the evenings for school or work and so i'd find a comfy place on the couch and just write. 1666 words turned into 13,328 and all of the sudden i was a novelist. 

my schedule's a little different now. there are more things demanding my attention and it's difficult to find time at all during the day where i can focus and dive into words as much as i want. but again - this can't be an excuse.

this morning, i tried something new. normally, i'm at the school by 6:30am. today? i stayed home and didn't leave until 6:30. i purposefully set aside some time in the morning for me to reflect, read, pray and start my day without the hum of fluorescent lights or the questions of coworkers or students. i've realized lately my boundaries with work have gotten a little skewed, and in order to fix it i drew the line.

so now, mornings will be my own. although i was slow to wake up this morning, i hope i'll be just as disciplined knowing for the next few hours, i have the freedom to find inspiration and take those stepping stones toward my dream. now, i won't go screaming into the weekend not having created anything all week long. hopefully, i'll be better for it and so will my art. even more important: my dream won't be set aside on the shelf just for weekends.

time won't ever be an excuse.

what about you? how do you carve some intentional time for creating in your week? 

for next week :: we'll talk about the responsibility and have-not excuse. 

Posted on February 14, 2012 and filed under tomorrow's dreams.

the story is happening.

free yourself and leave ripples - sabrina ward harrison

i believe Someone wants to stir our hearts to big things so we can learn to rely on this Source and fall in stride with it. i believe we are most complete when we are chasing those dreams, because in those times we are actually chasing the very heart of God, sometimes without even knowing it - mandy steward

last week, i took a personality test. part of my inner-workings include focus on dreaming and the future. in other words, dreaming is second nature to me. but where do you stop dreaming and when do you begin doing?

i sat in the coffee shop for a few hours this week thinking about this question. with a book coming out {hopefully} within the next few months, it's pretty easy to assume i've taken the steps necessary to follow my dreams.

this isn't true.

and i think this is where mandy starts talking about the breaking down of dreams - the realization of what your true dreams are once another dream falls apart or fails to meet expectations.

so i asked myself some hard questions this week. am i letting the story happen to me? am i willing to even step on the stones leading to my dream? with shaky fingers, i wrote out the brick walls surrounding me:

  • 50 hour work week
  • demanding schedule
  • exhaustion
  • no time
  • plate just too full

i thought again of my INFP - the intuitive force inside that i fail to rely on - and i began to wonder what if? and why not? 

so many times, i've stopped short of those ripples made by freeing oneself. i've mistaken my dream as selfish and what would others do or think? and slowly, i'm starting to just not care. i'm realizing the support system given to me can handle the ripples and may even welcome them. 

i stared at the numbers scribbled in my journal - numbers putting us closer than ever before to me staying home. numbers that equaled hope and adventure and spoke of discipline and temptation...

i think of the messy middle - the disorganized chaos left behind in the wake of a decision weighted with a dream. in a lot of ways, i imagine these past few years have pushed me to this point where the decision rests in my hands alone. this is where i realize i've been stepping on the stones without even seeing them.

i've been chasing His heart without even knowing it.

what did this section stir within you? where do you find yourself? 

---

next week we'll focus on the marginal excuse mandy talks about in the eBook {first part of Part 2}

Posted on February 7, 2012 and filed under tomorrow's dreams.

of expectations.

It's 11:30 pm.

I've been awake for almost 20 hours.

I woke up this morning at 5 - about an hour earlier than I normally wake for teaching at a school across the street. Today? I was driving to a school in a different city for an interview.

I left the house around 5:45 - plenty of time to reach my destination AND grab something substantial to eat on the way there. Our local grocery store was closed (that's when I knew I was up too early) so I opted for some nutritious & delicious Shipley's. I wasn't sure what I would be doing for lunch - my contact at the school hadn't said much other than asking me to come for a visit/sample lesson/interview, & I obliged.

I got there early. Like, 20 minutes before the kids were served breakfast. I was shown around the school - it took a total of five minutes compared to the 20 (at least) it would have taken for the school I teach at now. There are six classrooms. Six. These six classrooms will morph into ten next year - with the addition of four core teachers.

Sophomore teachers.

I'm not one of them.

First let me say this. The school is pretty innovative in terms of building community within the student body. And the teachers, for that matter. The few who worked there were obviously really close - and during lunch break, as I was going over my lesson one more time, the teachers spoke candidly with each other about their own lessons and what they needed to do to change. One teacher walked in asking if any of them had a certain kid - warning them about a possible attitude problem because of something that had happened in her class. Nothing too different from what I see on a day-to-day basis.

But they had music. Between passing periods. Instead of bells, Come on Eileen would start filtering through the halls and the kids would walk/dance/sing to their next class. I liked it - a lot.

I also liked the kids. Respect has definitely been built into the curriculum. Every time I spoke to a student, he or she looked me in the eye. Every time I asked a question, they answered confidently. It was wonderful. I was there for most of the day and I didn't witness any discipline problems outside of the "eyes forward, please" and "Mr. Jose would you please stand in the back of the classroom?" (The kid was sleeping)

I did my sample lesson on tone. Keep in mind I taught freshmen. I've never taught freshmen. I've had three years of experience with sophomores, and this year moved up to juniors. For the past four years, I've taught some level of advanced placement course.

Apparently, I'm too advanced.

No really. This is what I was told today.

Let me backtrack. My first year of teaching I taught middle school. 6-8 grade literature. I LOVED it. I adored my 7th grade - 8th graders were definitely feeling the "top dog" mentality and the 6th graders? Well - those precious kids were still trying to leave their elementary habits behind. But I LOVED these kids. We connected on a deep level and because it was a private school and not sanctioned under any TEKS objectives or standards, I was able to do as I pleased as long as the kids were learning.

By the time the school year was over, my 8th graders were writing 10 page papers on poetry and the cultural influence on the poet...you know, standard stuff for middle school. Or not. Regardless - I really feel they improved so much because no matter how high my standards were, my kids always reached for them. Always.

So today, as I stood in front of these freshmen (most of them ELL), I wasn't worried. I know students will rise to your lowest expectation of them, and these kids didn't disappoint.

I am a bit disappointed in the school.

I never even received feedback about my lesson. The interview, scheduled as a two day, was shortened to less than a full day. Rejection? Oh yeah. I felt it. But I have never considered myself too advanced for any student. How can a teacher be too advanced? It's the equivalent of being "over-qualified" for a job, in my opinion. And, what doesn't make sense about this whole thing is that this specific school is looking for teachers with their Master degrees.

And another thing - I had the privilege of observing the history teacher who spoke of the six levels of motivation. Heavy stuff. The kids, after discussing the levels, read excerpts from classical literature and determined the motivation of each character. At some point in the lecture, this teacher mentioned the importance of shooting higher than you are able. For instance, as middle school students, administration typically gets them to abide by rules by promising punishment or reward. As high school students, these kids were offered nothing because they should have enough maturity to begin to start doing things simply because it's the right thing to do. The students & teacher started discussing how annoying it is when people fail to realize your ability to reach certain expectations.

Hmmmm

Do I wonder if there were other reasons? Definitely. Am I torn up about it? Honestly? No. The job I have no - albeit in another city than where Russ & I will be living - is incredible. Supportive administration, creative collaboration, great students. I love it. And as I was driving home, I began to thank God from saving me from a position where I wouldn't be able to work to my potential. Because, as much as I love to push my students, I love to push myself.

I pulled out of the parking lot around 2:15. Bruised ego, splitting headache & ravenous appetite all screaming at me for attention. (I hadn't eaten anything since the haphazard Shipley's run before 6 this morning) By the time I got home, tears had been shed, personal pep-talk had been given, and prayers had been whispered. I was back to normal & ready for the rest of the year. I have 46 more days left with the kids who walked in MY door at the beginning of the year. Kids who rise to my lowest standard for them & continually amaze me with their creativity & drive & purpose. Kids who start talking to me on facebook just to ask where I was and to tell me they missed me & share funny stories about numerous subs who have walked through my door.

True. Today was a bit unexpected and even though it felt like a slap in the face to be rejected, the visit served a much deeper purpose.

Right now, this minute? I couldn't have a better job than teaching the kids I have been blessed with this year. I hope by the end of the year, my kids realize the deep impact they have had on me. Until then, I will try my hardest to finish the year out strong where I am at. I'm still not sure where I will be next year, and that's fine. Wherever I am I will love the kids to the best of my ability and will do the same thing I always do - reach higher than what they expect.

Posted on March 24, 2009 and filed under story, tomorrow's dreams.