Going Back to Old Dreams

I remember the story of an older friend of mine who went back to an old dream once her children left for college.  All her life, she wanted to be an actress.  All her life, she was too busy for it. 

But one bright day, she decides to audition for community theater, lands the lead role, and launches her acting career twenty years after putting it on hold. 

It’s brave.  It’s unconventional.  It’s risky. 

Why not?  I think about novels I’ve tucked away or plans I once had–before children, before schedules, before endless loads of laundry.  What if I made a little space again and took a risk on a dream?  

Living with flair means I’m not too busy for those dreams.   

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Journal:  Did you ever put a dream on hold? 

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When You Leave a Dream Alone

I apologize to the cauliflower plants that I’ve ignored them all summer.  They kept growing and growing, but I grew impatient.  I’d never once seen anything representing a cauliflower, and I gingerly pulled back the leaves all season.  Now, it just seems silly to check, especially since the whole garden is dried up and overgrown.

My husband reminds me that the peppers are just now turning red. 

I obviously have timing issues. 

I decide to give the cauliflower another chance.  Deep within the shaded leaves of the plant, a haven of cool, moist air surrounds something I’ve never seen growing before:  a real cauliflower in a garden and not a grocery aisle.  I show my daughter, and we wonder when (and how) in the world you pick a cauliflower.

I realize this:  sometimes when you leave something alone, it flourishes.  When you least expect it, and when you’re just about to give up, you’ll pull back those leaves and find your dream needed that quiet, uninterrupted place to germinate.

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Journal:  Do you have a dream you need to leave alone for awhile?   

 

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Are You Confident?

Confidence.  I think about this word today because I read a story about a woman who changed her hair color.  She became so much more confident.  A silly thing–an external change–altered her perception of herself and influenced how she interacted with others.  

I look up the word.  Confidence means you have assurance about yourself and your abilities.  But where does it come from?  Why are some folks so confident?  They move forward with a security–a trust–that they can launch out into new frontiers with sure success.

Others have ideas that flicker out like snuffed flames because they can’t imagine themselves ever really doing what they want so badly to do. They cower under the reality of potential criticism, inexperience, and insecurity. 

As I imagine a picture of confidence, I realize that confidence comes from the deeply held belief that we’re unconditionally accepted, equipped, and commissioned by God to do things.  If we fail, it doesn’t matter: we’re accepted (and even in failure, God works out a favorable outcome).  If we feel inadequate: we remember God equips (and in our limitations, God shines).  If we feel uncertain: we recall that God has set apart the good works for us to accomplish. We’re commissioned.   

When my writing book showed up on amazon, I had a moment of sheer terror.  It was public.  I was going to be mocked!  I was going to fail and forever go down in history as the poor woman who tried to write a book (in reality, nobody really thinks about us as much as we imagine).  But when I picture the confident me–the one whose confidence rests in God who does not fail us–I took a deep breath and remembered the truth. 

Living with flair means we cultivate a picture of confidence.  What do we want to do that a simple lack of confidence hinders? 

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Journal:  What takes our confidence away?

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Our Uncommon Uses

While cleaning my home today, I notice two of my favorite objects: a flowerpot and a serving dish.   We received them as wedding gifts over ten years ago, and they were both too beautiful not to use.  
But I don’t grow flowers inside in pots, and I rarely transfer our dinner onto serving platters (and this one seemed too small for my family).  I couldn’t keep these things hidden away!  Instead, I found uncommon uses for both the pot and the platter.

The pot became my cooking utensil holder.

The platter became our key tray. 

I realized that the pot can hold more than soil; the platter can carry more than a meal.

As I think about all my specific plans and dreams–the things I know I was made for–I have to pause and ask about the uncommon uses for my skills.   

Over the years, I have been so busy telling the Potter what I am really made for, and He’s already using me for broader, more interesting and more useful things. Things I hadn’t imagined.  Immeasurably more! 

Sometimes we emerge into the world on usual paths, using our gifts and talents in uncommon but wonderful ways.  Living with flair means I allow it.  We are too beautiful–too loved–to be kept hidden away. 

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Journal:  Our wedding theme verse was from Ephesians 3:20:  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. . . “  As I look at my wedding objects today, I think about the unsual paths our lives take.  How have I seen God do “immeasurably more” with the plans and dreams of my heart?

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It Really Works!

Green Tomatoes Leftover from Summer

I was a doubter about the whole ripening-tomatoes-in-the-basement plan.  Everybody said they would rot.  Everybody said they wouldn’t taste the same.

My daughter and I journey to the basement late yesterday and sit cross-legged before a box of tomatoes wrapped in newspaper.  Just a few weeks ago, we gathered all the green tomatoes from our garden before the first frost.  

She unwraps the first one.

Tomatoes Unwrapped! 

It’s a juicy deep red.  It’s a brilliant and fragrant red. 

We can hardly believe it.  My daughter and I unwrap each red treasure.  The experience is better than picking them off the vine.  Add the element of doubt and surprise, and all of a sudden, we have a celebration on our hands.

Basement-Ripened Tomatoes

We carry our produce to the kitchen.  Outside, the cold wind blows.  There’s a chance of snow, and the gray sky announces winter.  But my kitchen says its summer–the kind with fresh tomatoes and a counter top full of vegetables.

Roasting Tomatoes and Garlic

We get to work.  The little one decides we must make homemade. . . something.  We chop each tomato and roast them with cloves of garlic.  Then we remove skins and seeds and blend the whole thing into a delicious soup.  We’ve got grilled cheese sandwiches crisping and homemade garden tomato soup simmering.

I’m so thrilled that those tomatoes never ripened this summer. I’m so happy for that particular disappointment.

When Plan A fails, Plan B often turns out better–more magical–because of the unexpected, against-all-odds sort of outcome. The truth of it all hits me like the cold wind against this window.  Plan A has to fail sometimes because God’s got a surprise in mind that I’ll unwrap when the cold wind blows, in the sorrow of a dark basement.  That’s when I’ll need it most.

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When “Plan A” Fails

Green Tomatoes Before the Frost

We hear that a frost will come this week.  It seems so tragic:  dozens of beautiful tomatoes that never had a chance to ripen. 

But all is not lost.  As novice gardeners, we take advice from a master gardener in our community.  She tells us to harvest our green tomatoes, wrap them in newspaper, and tuck them away in a closet.  In several weeks, we’ll have a bounty of luscious, deep red tomatoes. 

I’ve never ripened tomatoes this way.  It seems unusual and unnatural.  It’s an entirely different means to a harvest. 

Wrapping tomatoes in newspaper

We eagerly wrap tomatoes like little gifts and hide them away to ripen.  We’ll peek in on them every week and watch their progress.  It’s not the way it’s supposed to happen, but it works.  It’s exactly right for this season.

I’m up to my elbows in unripe tomatoes that will ripen in an unexpected way–a way I didn’t imagine existed.  No God-given dream in my life has turned out in the manner I imagined.  The right process, the plan that was supposed to unfold in a particular way, veered off into orbit and produced a harvest in a different way, under different conditions.  I’ve learned to trust this concept.  I’ve learned to accept, trust, and then rejoice when Plan A fails.

I hold my dreams loosely–gently wrapped and tucked away.  God knows when and how they’ll come about.   

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Reinvent the Course

I’ve been thinking about what it means to instruct, to offer suggestions, and to speak in the imperative mood.  My love of verbs means I know they sometimes take the form of commands–imperative forms–that we use to express suggestions or advice.   This morning, I used the imperative on myself.  Here’s what I said:

Reinvent the Course

It’s like I’m running, and potholes and roadblocks stop me in my tracks.  I think to myself that it’s all over.  My dreams, my goals, my projects all fall apart with the slightest bit of discouragement.  Sewn together in particular ways, my life dreams must take shape exactly as I form them.  But pull one thread, and the whole thing unravels.

At that moment with a heap of disaster uncoiled around my ankles, I’m learning to reinvent the course I was on and recalibrate till I’m aligned with what always turns out to be better and a much purer form of what I really wanted all along.

For example, nothing in my life has ever come about in the right place, at the right time, and in the right form.  But it always ends up being. . . just right.  I met my husband in the wrong place (he was supposed to be in the South), at the wrong time (finishing a Ph.D.–who has time?), and in the wrong form (where was his little poet pony tail and John Lennon spectacles?).  But he was just right.  Exactly right.

And children?  Born in Michigan when my whole family was in Virginia, during my dissertation writing, and a girl instead of boy.  But she’s just right.  Exactly right.

Or moving here in a mad rush to a house I never imagined in any dream.  Or to a teaching career that came in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong form.  It was supposed to be a tenure track job at some Ivy League school.  But teaching was the goal and God put it in the right place, at the right time, in the right form.

Finally, my publishing dreams.  No book contract, no bestseller.  And yet, I learned to reinvent the course.  Blogging? And look! 11,000 visitors from 77 different countries or territories.  I didn’t even know how to make a blog 125 days ago.  I wanted to write, and maybe this new course would let me.  It seems just right.  Exactly right.


I think of life as a maze with only one path to my dreams.  But it’s not a maze.  It’s a beautiful landscape with trails we haven’t even imagined.  I’m just so thankful we have a Faithful Guide.

Living with flair means I’m not afraid or discouraged when I have to reinvent the course.  

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