Life Beyond The Basket

She came and made herself cozy in that hanging basket on my back porch. The one I had wanted to take down because the flowers it once held had since withered, and all that was left was this scraggly brown testimony to my lack of a green thumb.

But that crazy dove; she didn’t seem to mind the less-than-lovely surroundings. Week after week, she sat there, nearly immovable. Except for the time off for what I assumed was a quick snack while hubby dove stood guard over the gnarly, makeshift nest.

I thought about how hard it would be to sit motionless as minutes and hours and days flew by. Truth is, I have known that feeling. Maybe you have too. It’s like your spirit is yearning for sky but it is bound to the barren earth. Like your dreams have been grounded by some invisible weight and you’ve been left hanging, stuck in a casket basket in the middle of nowhere.

And, if you’re like me, you get a little fidgety while you’re waiting to get somewhere else. Maybe even a little angry. Until you remember that “to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In my season of waiting, as I observed that bird, I reckoned the only thing that could give any creature, or a human for that matter, this kind of patience is to know there’s a purpose. To believe in the promise of something so great that it makes any present discomfort seem worthwhile.

Then it happened…

And for another couple of weeks, my husband and I watched as the basket, now a cradle, swayed in the wind with mommy dove feeding her newborn, helping it to gain strength.

One day, both mommy and daddy dove started flying around the basket as if to demonstrate the a-b-c’s of successful flying. 24 hours later, their baby flapped its wings and took its first tentative flight.

And, finally, it was time to say goodbye to our feathered friends. The basket had served its purpose. The waiting had yielded the desired results.

The time had come to fly.

Lord, help me to be patient. To stay where I am, learn what I’m supposed to learn and let you prepare and strengthen me for life beyond the basket.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36 NLT

Mid-Week Pep Talk

If you’ve never been given a pep-talk by the Kid President, you’re in for a treat.

If you’ve heard this before, you’ll enjoy hearing it again. I never get tired of it.

Because you can’t get tired of getting inspired!

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope you know that you can make a difference. No matter what challenges you may be facing, your heart is beating for a reason.

So, lets go out and, in the words of Kid Pres, “Create something that will make the world awesome!”

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Linking with Katherine’s Corner

Unearthing a Dream

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”  Charles Dickens

We are born into a world full of contradictions. The word paradox comes to mind. And all we need to do is look at ourselves to see the definition personified.

We crave joy but fill up on the crumbs of lesser things.

Our spirit yearns to fly but we weigh it down with worry.

Light is what we desire but we settle for shadows.

And when it comes to our God-sized dream, we want more than anything to be brave enough to believe it. But, more often, we just bury it because it’s easier than facing our fears. 

Maybe we’re afraid of losing joy once we’ve found it.

Afraid of what others will think and how painful the fall will be once we are in flight, in full pursuit of our dreams.

But can this last forever?

Us clinging to walls, dodging the spotlight, afraid of our own shadow?

I don’t know if I’m speaking to anyone but myself here but I think it’s time to bury fear and unearth the dream God has for us.

And I was reminded as my husband and I worked in our little garden this weekend – I have seen this same plot of ground hold both the dead and the living.

The Lord provides the seasons, the sun, the rain, the nutrient-rich soil. But I, too, have a part to play in how my garden grows. Whatever I neglect will die. Whatever I nurture will flourish.

I have taken this simple concept and really complicated it over the years. But God knows I want to be a nurturer of the gifts He has given me.  

And isn’t that what all His children want? Because our joy is in serving the One who has “made His light shine in our hearts.” (2 Cor. 4:6)
We live to glorify Him. 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us that “we have this treasure (His light) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 

And when you stop to think about that gift – the light inside of us – you start to realize it’s the reason for all the others we are given. 

We’re meant to shine. But the tricky part, at least for me, is getting past the fear that comes from focusing on this clay jar rather than the treasure within.

I’m covered with chips and cracks and sharp edges that need smoothing but that’s not the whole story. And I’m missing the point if I think I’ve got to be perfect before God can use me.

It’s not what I can do, but what He can do through me. Praise God! That’s the point. Good news… it’s not about you either. It’s about “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)
And isn’t that the greatest paradox of all?

A Safe Place to Dream

I said in an earlier post that I was going to be writing throughout the month of March on the subject of “the shadows that shape us and the Light that saves us.” So when I saw this challenge from Holley Gerth, I knew exactly what I wanted to share today.

Holley asked us to write “A Letter to the God-sized Dreamers – telling your sisters why what they’re doing and who they’re becoming through this process is worth it–even on the hard days.”

I’ll begin with a little back story. For most of my life, I’ve been a shadow-dweller. Hiding myself and my God-given dreams from others. Trying to protect myself from being judged and ridiculed. I was afraid to let the real me be seen and, as a result, I even forgot who I was.

To this day, it’s something I still struggle with. I have to consistently work on overcoming my desire for other people’s acceptance because I know good and well that I’m accepted by God. He knows me, He loves me and that’s all that really matters.

I recall a conversation I had a few years ago with a woman who was grilling me over my job-status. I’m paraphrasing, but this is the gist of that conversation:

“What do you do all day?”
Well, I do a lot of writing. I volunteer, I…
 “Are you still looking for a job?”
Well, sure. I’d love to be working full time but…
“Wow, I could never do that. I’d be so bored.”

I felt condemnation in her questions. Especially when she told me about some of the women she knew who just went to the gym or the spa all day while their kids were at school. It sounded like she was insinuating that women who did not work outside the home were all the same – lazy, good-for-nothings. It wasn’t hard to figure out that she pretty much had the same opinion of me.

And the thing is, it hurt.

I told her that this season of my life had been tough, but it was just that – a season. And I did not know how long it would last but I was trying to learn whatever God was trying to teach me through it.

I think I actually heard crickets as she stared at me, silent, eyebrows arched, as if waiting for a better explanation.

The truth is, I wasted a lot of time fretting over the set-back of unemployment until I realized that even this was part of His plan for me. That “down time” had an up side. It made me look up. It caused me to grow closer to God and re-connect to my true self.

And, for that, I am thankful.

I’m also thankful for the empathy I now have for those who suffer in ways we cannot see. I wonder how many times I may have judged a person unfairly without knowing or caring to learn their story. What I’ve learned is that our paths are different. Your journey will not look the same as mine, and mine may not make sense to you but we all have one common denominator.

We belong to God. And we are slowly becoming the person He designed us to be.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Our lives, our giftings, our dreams are all unique and they come from our Creator and no one is less than or more than another.

So maybe we should stop pouring salt in each others wounds with our insensitive words and condescending looks and silent presumptions and accusations. Let’s give grace to one another because it’s a lot easier for us to fulfill our calling when we have the encouragement of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Just think how far we could go, what heights we could climb, if we could share our true selves and support each other in pursuit of the dreams God has placed in each one of us!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Maybe something has thrown you off course. You’re in a place you’ve never been before, a place so dark you can’t see your way out. Maybe you haven’t heard this in a while and you might not believe it right now but I want to tell you something.

Whoever you are, wherever you are – You are not alone!

You matter. Your dreams matter. God gave them to you for a reason and, even though you may feel misunderstood by others, do not misunderstand this: God has a plan for you that is perfect and bigger and better than anything you can imagine.

Today, if you find yourself peaking out from the shadows, wondering if it’s safe to come into the Light, the answer is yes! Don’t be afraid. Your God-sized dream awaits.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16


Can You See Me?

I woke up this morning thinking today would be no different than the day before. That I am just a poor boy that no one sees. I was wrong.
I am a small child.
But my heart is big.

Big enough to feel sad when I see my mother cry. She does not speak of it but I wonder if I am the reason for her tears. Because there isn’t much food to eat and I am always hungry. 

A small child.
With a big appetite.

My father works when he can and I try to do my share to help out but it never seems like enough. And sometimes, when I don’t know what to do, I go to this church in my village. There are people there who tell me about a God who cares and I got your letter saying you care too.

It got me thinking.

I may only be a small child.
But God is big and he can make me strong.

Maybe one day, when I grow up, I will travel beyond the grass walls and dirt floors of my home. Maybe I will be a Compassion sponsor myself. And when I come across a little boy like me, hungry for hope, I will tell him not to give up. Because he is not invisible. His life counts for something. He matters.

Until then, I will go to sleep tonight happy. Because I can close my eyes knowing that God sees me.

A small child. 
With big dreams.

What you have just read is my response to a challenge from Compassion International to write a letter from the perspective of my sponsored child. 

Please watch this inspiring video from Sara Groves and pray for the children who are waiting for someone to tell them they are seen. Sponsors are still needed. CLICK HERE if you would like to be one.