Why Now Is the Time to Dream

 

DreamThis summer my husband and I came extremely close to buying a large chunk of land less than a mile from where he grew up. We were excited; so excited to see these plans come through.

For months we talked and planned and dreamed. We walked the property and checked with the owner time and again working toward a deal.

This dream of owning land, of building a house, of having a place to call our own has been in our hearts since the day we wed almost thirteen years ago. And really it was a dream long before then.

We’ve come close to seeing this dream realized several times throughout our marriage but somehow it always falls through. 

At times this has shattered our hearts to pieces and other times it’s been okay because we knew God had better plans, but even still our hearts continue to dream and hope and long for that day, for that place all our own.

Again, this summer we thought we had it. And again this summer it didn’t work out.

Overall, we were kind of relieved when the deal didn’t go through. Too many red flags kept waving and we walked away from the land with all kinds of peace in our hearts.

I am so thankful for this but still we wonder what’s next. If not this land, this deal, then what? Will our dream ever come true? 

 It’s definitely been a time of trial and drawing close to God. Of choosing again and again to trust Him with our desire, to be open with our hearts, and believe His plans for us are good. To prosper and not to harm us.

And in this time of drawing close I keep hearing Him whisper a special message just for me:

 Now’s the time to dream. 

Having His permission to dream is both freeing and affirming. It inspires me to picture that place I long for so deeply. 

To see in my minds eye (and a Pinterest board or two…okay three) that one part cabin, one part castle, one part cottage home which is so perfectly me.

To picture my bedroom, my girl’s room, my writing nook.

To picture a spacious yard for my girls to play and an apple orchard just for me.

My list of dreams goes on and on filling my heart with light and hope. 

 And it’s not about not being happy where I am now. Indeed it’s being more than okay with waiting to see these dreams come true, but as I wait it’s also okay to imagine, to wonder, to trust. To dream big dreams that spin me around and point me to Him.

As I dream about my someday home I’m reminded that His permission to dream also holds true in other areas of my life where I find myself waiting. 

There’s the dream of another baby… perhaps a little boy.

The dream of spoiling our family and friends with trips, and blessings, and gifts galore.

And the dream of publishing my book.

So I let my mind run wild in the quiet and waiting places. In moments with Him and those Pinterest boards.

And I picture a little boy in cowboy boots who smiles just like his daddy.

I picture my parents on a cruise ship, my family in Germany, my best writing buddy and me in a tricked out glamper doing book signings from coast to coast.

I picture my book, printed on leafy pages, looking right at home on a Barnes and Noble shelf.

Will these dreams ever come true? Lord only knows…

But this I know for sure…

His heart for me is good.

His promises are true.

And now’s the time to dream. 

What I Can’t Help but Say this 4th of July

IMG_4076Today my girls and I talked about the Fourth of July. As they colored pictures of the American flag I played a music video about the flag and its colors. 

As we watched the video I saw pictures of soldiers and footage of men coming home from war. I saw endless rows of Arlington gravestones. I saw veterans saluting the flag with unbridled respect and pride.

And all I wanted to do was cry. Chill bumps rose on my arms and inside my chest my heart just swelled.

I always get this way around the fourth. When I listen to the patriotic songs. When I watch the Patriot or read a WWII novel. I get this way when I see veterans honored and the flag waving so beautiful in a patch of golden light.

Part of me feels silly but shouldn’t it be this way? Inside every American chest shouldn’t a tender heart beat proud and strong for the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Because here’s the thing: If we aren’t moved with love and pride for our country we won’t be moved to protect and defend her. 

There is a lot happening in our nation today that saddens me and breaks my heart but there is also so much for which I am grateful, for which I am proud. And I’ll be damned if I’m not willingly to protect what makes our nation great, what makes me love this land.

This Fourth of July, it’s easy to be discouraged, it’s tempting to lose hope. And while I don’t have the answers about our country and her future, I do know the first step in fighting for, protecting, and preserving the country we love is falling in love with our country all over again. 

Get personal.

Get emotional.

Be moved.

Then make a move for the country you love.

Watch a movie.

Listen to a song.

Read a book about our history.

Talk to a veteran.

Visit a war memorial cemetery.

Hit your knees and pray.

And take that pride that burns in your belly and do something. Stand up for what you believe in. Be the difference. Make the change.

The Fourth of July comes once a year but the American spirit, in its essence, cannot expire. 

Be moved. Then move. 

Because that flag… 

 Oh, that flag. 

What to Do this Memorial Day: READ!

War BooksI closed the book and held it close to my chest. After three weeks immersed in the pages of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand I was both sad and happy for the story of Louie Zamperini to come to an end. 

When I started reading this book it wasn’t what I expected. For some reason I thought it was a fiction novel set in World War II. I realized right away this wasn’t the case. Rather than historical fiction, Unbroken is a very real account of an American POW, a biography of an American hero.

While I love historical fiction my typical reading preferences do not gravitate toward history books, particularly those that tell the gruesome details of war and the soldiers who fight them. That’s more my husband’s department, and for years I’ve been content to leave this difficult and heavy reading up to him.

But there was something about Louie, something about Unbroken that I couldn’t let go. This story, albeit hard to read, is the closest I’ll ever come to understanding the price that was paid for my freedom.

If an American hero like Louie was brave enough, resilient enough, strong enough to endure the story captured in this book, the very least I can do is take the time to read his-story. 

It is nothing short of scandalous. That I can sit on my couch, comfortable and cozy on a cold winter night, with food in my fridge and a roof over my head and read the story of a man who lost everything in order to protect my freedom.

Flag StatueBooks like Unbroken, movies like American Sniper are hard to read, hard to watch, but I think there is an importance to these stories all Americans should make room for in their hearts, their minds, their lives. How else do we avoid taking the truth of our history for granted? How else do we avoid forgetting? How else do we avoid turning a blind eye to what is still being done on our behalf to keep us safe, to keep us free?

If you’re like me, and war books/movies aren’t your thing, might I encourage you to check one out? Take the time to set aside your normal book of choice and engage in the stories of men and women who have given their lives so we can live our lives in safety and in freedom.

And when you’re done, I hope you’ll take that unlikely book on your reading list and hold it close to your chest. A little more grateful. A little more aware. A little more willing to thank the veteran you see at the grocery store next week.

A little more willing to keep on reading. Because these stories are more than stories.

They are relics of our history, bought with blood, too precious to be forgotten. They are links into the battle against evil, being fought for us right now, too real to  be taken for granted.

An Unlikely Reading List…

Night by Elie Wiesel

1776 by David McCullough

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

American Wife by Taya Kyle

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

A Warrior’s Faith by Robert Vera

~A Message From the Archives

 

How to Be a Hero

Everyday when my daughters and I get ready to start our schoolwork we begin our day by saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

I remember this is how the school day always started when I was in elementary school and while I don’t know if this practice is something school children still do at the start of each day (goodness, I hope it is) in my homeschool classroom it is a tradition that will not be forsaken.

Especially on days like today.

Today after saying the pledge I instructed my girls to pull out their calendars and find the box for September 11th.

“Today is a special day,” I said. “Would you like to hear why?”

“Yeah,” they cheered together.

“Today is Patriot’s Day,” I continued and for the next several minutes I shared the story September 11th. Tenley, my three-year-old, was for the most part oblivious, but Aletheia, my five-year-old, seemed absorbed in the story.

I explained to my girls how bad people who hated America and all the good things we, as a country stand for, decided to do very bad things to American people and places that symbolize our freedom, liberty, and strength.

I told them that many, many people died because of the things the bad people did.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Aletheia said.

“I don’t either,” I told her but then I also told her that September 11th is a story about heroes. I told her that there were people that day who refused to let the bad people do what they wanted to do. I told her that because of these heroes and the sacrifices they made many, many people were rescued.

Finally, I told my girls that America, today, is still in need of heroes because there are still bad people in this world who hate what our country stands for. People who seek to steal, and kill, and destroy.

I know there is a lot our country is getting wrong these days but I also know there are still people in the United States who believe in freedom, and liberty, and justice.

America, at its core, was established to give freedom and liberty to its citizens and, in turn, offer that freedom and liberty to the world.

On September 11, 2001 our nation witnessed the power of what can happen when American heroes decide to stand for what they believe in and stand for what is right. In the face of all the evil that sought to prevail that day the actions of American heroes stopped evil in it’s tracts and saved the lives of thousands.

Thirteen years later, at a pivotal time in our nation’s history the best way to remember September 11th, the people who died, the people who gave their lives and stood as heroes, is to become heroes ourselves.

To stand for what we believe in…

To act in the face of injustice…

To fight against evil and darkness…

When we do these things we offer freedom. When we live like heroes we shine liberty’s light against the darkness that lurks in this world.

We don’t have to bring down planes. We just have to look for ways to be heroes to the people around us in need of rescue.

A single mom in need of groceries.

A teen on the brink of destruction.

The new person in the neighborhood, at school, at church in search of community, a friend, a place to call home.

The heroes of 9/11 sacrificed everything they had to do what they knew was right and we can honor them, we can honor God, when we’re willing to sacrifice our time, our luxuries, our resources, for the benefit of others.

So today, be a hero. Be a hero to someone in need a rescue. Right something that’s wrong. Take a stand against evil and darkness.

Remember the Pledge of Allegiance, the way it feels to stand before the stars and stripes with your hand over your heart.

Remember the story of 9/11, the people who died, and the actions of heroes.

Remember freedom. Remember liberty.

And share them with the world.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1 (NASB)

The Best Way to Celebrate this Fourth of July

My Country, Tis’ of Thee

America the Beautiful

God Bless America

The Star Spangled Banner

Patriotic songs are one thing our country does well.

This week while eating lunch, my girls and I watched a children’s DVD titled, Songs of America by Cedarmont Kids. Included in this collection of songs was the Battle Hymn of the Republic (Glory, Glory Hallelujah!)

I know I’ve heard this song a hundred times, but this time, as we watched, the fifth stanza of this classic American song caught my attention.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.

As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.

When I heard these lyrics my heart swelled with pride not just for my country but for my God, for the way He transfigures, for the way He makes us holy.

Our God is marching on. And while this is a perilous time in our nation’s history, our God is still Lord of all. He still transfigures. He still makes us holy. And there are men and women still fighting for this country, for us, and for freedom.

And I wonder, as an American and a follower of Christ what am I willing to lie down, to die to, so that my fellow man can be free? My pride? My fear? My sense of comfort?

Because we are at war. There are people all over our neighborhoods, our communities, our schools, our churches, our workplaces, our country, our world, who are living in bondage, who are desperate to be free.

Your neighbor. Your hairstylist. Your daughter’s teacher. Your son’s coach. Your boss. Your co-worker. Your sister. Your brother. Your best friend.

Everywhere; Young, old, rich, poor, our nation, our world is teeming with people who need to be rescued by soldiers of Christ and the truth of His saving grace.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate this Fourth of July isn’t in eating hot dogs or watching fireworks. Perhaps it’s in making a sacrifice, be it big or small, so that someone in your world can experience the love of Christ.

We all know that freedom isn’t free. It was bought for us with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and in terms of our nation, with the precious blood of countless American heroes. It is a gift from our past, a privilege for the present, and a responsibility for our future.

On this Fourth of July, what are you willing to die for? What are you willing to sacrifice so that others can know the love, the saving grace, of Jesus? So that the captives can be free?

~ A Message from the Archives