Dreams of a Tiny Dancer…for when God-sized dreams are catching

“ What’s a God-sized dream, Mom?”

Lizzy's cam 096

She stands with head tilted, blue eyes glinting over her black rimmed glasses, complete with hearts and gold filigree and diamonds that scream her personality for all the world to hear.  She is stunning- this mini version of her father with her “Mom’s instincts.”  (It is, by the way, the greatest compliment I could ever receive that this child of wonder, full of love, would identify her personality as mine.) She munches Great Value BBQ chips in my ear as she reads over my shoulder a blog post written by another dreamer about a launching place.

“Is it a dream that God gives you or is it something that you ask God for?”

Her nine years feel like they have fast-forwarded thirty and I stop reading, struck by the question I echoed just three days earlier as my new friend and I made our way up US Hwy 71 toward a sacred meeting place for dreamers.  I’ve practiced this weekend the art of asking questions as an answer and so I do this now, seeking wisdom in the faith of a child.

“What do you think a God-sized dream is?”

“I think God makes us with dreams inside and with all the things we need to live them out.  What do you say always from the Bible? ‘God created a purpose for you before he created the Earth and created you for a purpose.’ Yeah…so I think he makes us like that.”

I smile.  Ephesians 2:10.  A verse that guides every dream conversation I have.  Never fear, moms, these “littles”, they do listen and take to heart.

“I think you are right on, sweetheart.  Do you have a God-sized dream?”

“Yes.  God gives me the same dream every night.  I’ve dreamt it more times than any other dream I’ve ever had.”

I start to correct her…that the ‘dreams’ we are speaking of aren’t exactly the same kind of dream that one has every night, but before I say anything, she opens her heart and spills out the dreams of a nine year old girl that wants to use her new-found gifts to change the world for Jesus.

“I am a primary dancer for a Christian dance company like Ballet Magnifcat. We are at this big auditorium filled with people and I am dancing with such grace and beauty.  The ballet ends and I am standing in the middle of the stage taking my final bow, someone hands me roses and I step forward and tell the story of Jesus and how he laid down his life for us and how we all need Him everyday. I invite those who don’t know Christ to come to the front and lots of people come to know Him. They come to know Him through my story. They come to know Him through my dance. I bring people to Christ with what God made me to do.  That’s my God-sized dream.”

I am undone by my tiny dancer.

I think back to a late night conversation by the fireplace in Nebraska with another dancer. One older and who has walked much further through life, but who holds onto the dream of dancing for God again.  And to the woman who wished she hadn’t waited 54 years to begin believing in her dream of writing for Jesus.  And to the man who wasn’t sure that he was dreaming his dream or God’s and needed help discerning the difference. I think back on these conversations and I wonder at God’s timing.  I am in awe of the way He has prepared me for this moment through my experience with His dreamers of all shapes and sizes this past weekend.

Gratitude spills over and floods the room.  Thank you, dream sisters and brothers, for sharing your hearts and stories with me, for giving me the opportunity to practice listening and encouraging others in their God-sized dreams.  Thank you, Adonai Ballet Academy for a safe place for my daughter to hone her craft so that she has the skills to live out her dream.  Thank you, Sally for preparing my heart to hear this dream come from hers.  Thank you, Ballet Magnificat for inspiring dancers to dance for God.  Thank you Holley Gerth, for giving me the language around which to speak these hearts aloud.  But mostly, Thank you my Sweet Dreamer for sharing your heart with me and reminding me that I am living my dream of helping others to see theirs right where I am.

Photo credit: Adonai Ballet Academy

Photo credit: Adonai Ballet Academy


The Dream Interpreters…for when you need a heart to hear

The last two weeks have been amazing in their lessons for me.  Last week, my silent directed retreat to Little Portion left me rested and better prepared for the journey ahead and while there I learned so much about my relationship with God and my need for rest.  This week, I have just returned from the Jumping Tandem Retreat in Ashland, Nebraska and what an amazing experience! I have learned more about living my God-sized dream, what that means and what it is.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing reflections from both these experiences.  Here is the first, an introduction to Jumping Tandem.  


After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.  

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” 

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

– Genesis 40:4-8

There were a hundred of us gathered in a small chapel room at the Carol Joy Holling Conference Retreat Center in Ashland, Nebraska.  We came for different reasons and at different stages in our journey. Each of us fancied ourselves writers or artists of a sort, but all of us were dreamers…and that’s really what we came for…to learn about God-sized dreams and spend time fleshing out our own.

My sweet friend and heart sister, Holley Gerth, kicked off the weekend with a challenge- put your dream on paper…and then tell someone about it.  She asked us to lay down the sword of criticism and pick up the Sword of Truth, and turn to a heart sister we hadn’t met yet, pull up our ribs and show off our beautiful, captivating, Jesus-imprinted hearts.

The room erupted in the fervent sharing of each other’s dreams and smiles and encouragement floated in the air, divine appointments were met and I had the intense sensation that this weekend would be one of openness and vulnerability, of encouragement and deep thinking, and that somewhere in that room was a heart that would help me interpret my dream.

Dreams are funny things, you know? They have life and breath and emotions. They teach us about ourselves and our world and how we view it.  They make us yearn for something more and reach beyond our lives and experiences to a bigger understanding of the mystery that is this existence.  But, if not carefully interpreted and shared, they can invite doubt and fear and anxiety and comparison to set up camp in our lives and breed together to birth resentment and bitterness.

I know that the passage above from Genesis is addressing specifically prophetic dreams, but I think there is something more in it for the dreamers of the world.  

“Why do you look so sad today?” Asked Joseph.  “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Don’t we feel that? When we have dreams and no one to help us make sense of them? No one to hold us accountable to them. No one to go along with us on the experience?


Tandem, by definition, is the arrangement of two or more persons, or objects, behind each other. So in essence, tandem skydiving is arrangement of two skydivers, the student and the instructor, where the instructor’s harness attaches them to each other. During a tandem jump the student sits in the front of the harness and both the student and the instructor share the instructor’s parachute.

Jumping Tandem Retreat was about not going it alone.  Was about having another heart hear and interpret your dream and about making the leap together using the same big God-sized parachute.  Our “skydiving” instructors this weekend shared with us their own God-sized dreams and how God was making them happen (most often in unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable ways), they shared with us their own fears and they shared with us how they learned to jump anyway, and then they helped us suit up to take the leap.  I have never experienced anything quite like it…and I can’t wait to go back next year and hear the stories that are being written on the hearts of those who attended this year.

Covenant Relationships- A Word from Ann Voskamp

From Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

From Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

I had an entirely different post scheduled for today….

One about being present and listening to a heart rather than a word.  It was a good post (no worries, look for it next Friday!) But then I read my friend Holley’s blog and it was just so perfect.  It so fit my word for the year and so fit how I am seeking to live my life this year (and for many to come), I just had to share it with you….

We can all find ourselves pulled into negative conversations from everything from the weather to politics to what great aunt so-and-so did last week. The start of a new year always feels like the blank page of a new journal so guarding our words and helping others around us do the same is perhaps more important now than ever.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen. – Eph. 4:29

So if you find yourself in the middle of gossip or a gripe fest, what can you do?

Here’s my go-to list of three kinds of questions to ask to help the conversation get back on track…will you jump over with me to Holley’s to read the rest?  There’s a free printable download of the graphic above in it for ya :)…

And a little song to drive it all home… 

Words by Hawk Nelson

In God’s Heart I am….Blessed

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks my friend, Holley Gerth, is inviting us to share with her the answer to the statement “In God’s Heart I am….” Today’s word is BLESSED. 

I could write for days on the blessings God showers on me, but I have been trying something a little different with these prompts. Instead of writing a new post each week, I am resurrecting an old post.  What’s been awesome about this exercise is the opportunity to go back and see growth (both in my writing and my faith) and to also see each of these posts as a kind ‘eucharisteo’ in its own right.  It has been a wonderful journey thus far, and tonight is no different.

I went WAY back to 2007 for tonight’s post.  It is one of my very first blog posts, back in the day when I still thought myspace was cool. 🙂 It chronicles the story of our first trip to the hospital with our son. It was a turning point in our lives.  A great blessing in disguise…without this trip we might have taken years to figure out that he was actually suffering from a rare allergic disorder called Eosiniphilic Esophagitis. The day I wrote this I was grateful for so many blessings–it is only now though that I can see truly what I blessing experience was. Enjoy…

Thank You for the Morning Glories


Have you ever tried to get rid of a morning glory?  It is not easy.  Just when you think that you have weeded them out, here sprouts a new one, weaving its vines all over your favorite Hibiscus bush  and letting you know just how not in control of your environment you are.

Life is like that too, isn’t it?  There are just some things in life that keep coming back to you until you finally stop fighting them and embrace them.  Sometimes, you have to stop trying to weed out the things you don’t want to be there and be thankful for the experiences.

Take this week for example.  Tuesday morning, my son woke up about4:30 amthrowing up.  I thought, “great…stomach virus…not what I need today.”  I was scheduled to teach dissection to the 5-8th graders at his school at 1, Charlie was on pager, work was piled high on my desk and I had just come back from a three day trip with the kids out of town.  What I did not need was a sick child to try to work around.  So, as I am running around, trying to come up with some antidote to his illness, trying to work out in my mind some way to get it all done, Xander goes running past me to the bathroom again, and again…and again….by the fourth trip to the bathroom in less than an hour, all that worrying about how I was going to fit everything else into my day was replaced with how do I keep fluids down my son.  By7 am, I had passed worry and anxiety to plain ole scared.  By 830, we were at the doctor’s (still vomiting every 15 min, and at this point having to be wheeled around in a wheelchair because he was too weak to walk).   By 915, we were admitted to the hospital with no idea what was wrong.  After a night in the hospital on IV fluids, Xander is doing much better, but we are still home from school.

I guess the point is, I did not want this little trip to the hospital or the 4 days off work, or the 4 days stuck at home, inside with a stir crazy boy and an even more stir crazy me.  But it has made me slow down and appreciate some things a little more.  I am really thankful for my son and his improved health. I am thankful for our health insurance (even though I am always complaining about how crappy it is). I am thankful for our house (even thought right now I feel trapped inside it).  I am thankful for my job that keeps me from being trapped inside the house (even though I have been complaining about never having enough time). But, I am especially thankful for the morning glories that greeted me and my son with their unassuming blue smiles when we came home from the hospital (even though they are climbing all over my hibiscus and petunias)…..

Alexander said, “Mom, look God made these new flowers grow here.  I like them, they are my favorite color. Aren’t they pretty?”

Thank You, God, for those morning glories!  I think they may just be my new favorite flower.

On Love and being Loved….

“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.” – C.S. Lewis

Photos by Melton Microfilms

I am ever amazed at the love that grows for someone that I have spent so much of my life with.  We are so different in so many ways and yet God is perfectly crafting us for one another.

We are a work unfinished….but…ah the beauty of love…and of being loved…a (somewhat tarnished) mirror of the love our Father has for us.  A love that sees through to the heart of us and loves us nonetheless.

And with each new day, an opportunity to mirror that love to others.

And in doing so, taste the richness of life.

This post is part of a weekly link up over at Holley Gerth’s place talking about different words that answer the question “In God’s heart I am…” This week’s word was loved.  If you’d like to join us, head on over to www.holleygerth.com

I’m So Excited! (Holley Gerth’s new book and a giveaway!)

Oh! I am so excited! My friend, Holley, has published her new book and I simply can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! You can pre-order your copy here (Release date is  Sept 1, 2011) OR go to her blog to learn about an awesome giveaway!

So often, I feel like Holley  has peeked into my mind and is writing all the thoughts I was afraid to put on paper. Many times, she has provided through her blog the absolute perfect encouragement at the perfect time. She consistently speaks God’s word to us in an encouraging and uplifting way.

Here’s how she describes her new book:

Turn on the television. Spend time on the Internet. Take a walk through your local mall. Everywhere we go there are messages about who we are and who we’re supposed to be.

And yet in the middle of it all, one voice is quietly calling to our hearts.

It’s the voice of the One Who Loves Us.

He whispers…

“You’re wanted. You matter. You’re wonderfully made.”

In our noisy world, our busy lives, those words that express God’s heart for you can get lost. This book is an invitation to find them again.

I can’t wait to get my copy!

Guest Post- What Your Heart Needs to Know (via Strings Attached Ministries)

I so needed to hear this again today. Maybe you do too?

Guest Post- What Your Heart Needs to Know Sometimes hearts get forgetful, distracted by the busy and the hard. So here's a little reminder… You're loved– high as the sky, deep as the ocean, wide as the world (Ps 103:11) You're created– made by God's hands, one-of-kind, soul-deep-beautiful (Gen 1:31) You're thought of– all day, every day, awake-asleep-and-in-between (Ps 139:18) And there's lots more where that came from because there's no end to the ways He loves you. About the Autho … Read More

via Strings Attached Ministries

On Planting Seeds…(thanks Miss Holley)

I have been hemming and hawing around what to do today…caught between what I should be doing and what I oughta be doing and what I wanna be doing. Throw in there a little of what God wants me to do and you know what happens?


Yep…nothing….no laundry, no writing, no fun day at the pool with kids and a myriad of other seeds I didn’t plant today.

And then I sat down at my laptop to do more of nothing (read: check Facebook) and found myself reading a couple of blogs that really got me thinking.

The first, Jon Acuff’s blog about blogging, Why People Don’t Read Your Blog,” got all up in my kitchen. The gist? “Why should I loyally read your blog, if you won’t loyally write?” 

Ouch…(ps I haven’t exactly been loyal in the posting here….forgive me?)

And then, while I was still reeling from that stinging blow and already beginning with the excuses as to why I can’t post regularly- which really all come back to the fear that if I write everyday I will stop providing value and hope and start providing mindless drivel.

Then I read this, from my sweet friend Holley Gerth:

I carry them home to my heart and think, “Yes! I will plant my seeds.”

And then life gets busy.

Can anyone relate?

The good news is–it’s not too late.

(You should read the rest of the post here….really you should. )

It’s not too late.

Did you hear that? It’s not too late! Oh, thank you my sweet friend for reminding me that it’s not too late…I needed that gentle heart tug today.

And so here I am, planting a tiny seed. The truth is that somedays I will have deep thoughts to share and sometimes I will have mindless drivel.  I hope that you will bear with the latter. As for my part, I am letting go of my idea of the perfect post and praying that the simple practice of writing daily will bear fruit. This is a start, a small one, but without the starting you can’t be about the finishing can you?

What seed will you plant today?

Guest Post-How To Avoid Getting Caught in the World Wide Web: Letters between friends about Social Media: #1

My word sisters, Holley Gerth and Ann Voskamp are sharing their hearts over at Holley’s blog.  This was exactly what I needed to hear today. How about you?

a letter from Ann Voskamp to Holley Gerth


Dear Holley, woman with a heart as wide as hope itself…

Do you remember first asking me —“How do you be in the world wide web but not of it?”

How can we navigate this cyberweb and not get caught in it?

Creating buzz while we are soundlessly being wrapped tighter and tighter…. till we are slowly eaten alive…



I know. What does any of this web stuff have to do with anything real, really? The world wide web, these blogs, this thing called “social media” — isn’t all just a little bit — virtual? Unreal? Disconnected to the stuff of our life, our hearts?…Head over to Holley’s blog for more….

Guest Post- Joy the Color of Fireflies

My sweet friend, Holley Gerth, who blogs her heart at Heart to Heart with Holley, has a way of making my heart sing, “Amen, Sister!” with her words.  I want to share some of them with you today! If they make yours sing too, won’t you go leave her a comment on here or over at her bloggy home.

Joy the Color of Fireflies

The sky is inky blue, a swirl of dark and light. Day and night do a slow dance before the moon rises high above the trees. The music we can’t hear beckons the fireflies from their hiding places. One by one they appear, little lights twinkling against the backdrop of an early summer evening.

Fireflies photo by Coso Blues (flickr creative commons)

I first caught fireflies as a girl of seven or so. Taking my brother and I to the porch, my grandmother handed us a mason jar. “Be gentle,” I’m sure she told us.

Then she watched and smiled from the edge of the flowerbed in a wheelchair.(She had polio at age 29, younger than I am now.)

I don’t know where these creatures live, what they do in the winter, why they come again…but I do know each one is like a bright and beautiful memory floating through the air.

And, because of this, I still catch those flickers of brightness even though childhood has long gone. I place them (gently, yes) into jars, water bottles, whatever I can find. When I have twenty or so I let them go and watch the homemade fireworks display.

Saturday I did this for the first time of the season. Our dear friends, Sean and Kim, were there. We sat on the patio and as the fireflies appeared, I begged my guests to go with me. Sean joined the chase while Mark and Kim watched from the patio at our crazy zig-zags across the yard.

In my firefly moments I feel more alive, happy, and closer to heaven than I do almost any other time all year. It’s as if everything that’s sweet, good, and right is made real in tiny flashes of light as I think of my Grandma and all she taught me of joy.

In the hospital after being told she would never walk again, her pastor said,“Frances, you can choose to let this make you bitter or better.” She would tell me again and again with a twinkle in her eyes, “I chose better.”

My Nana knew joy, like a firefly, flits about you. But if you are serious about it, you must pursue it. And she knew joy, like a firefly, often comes surrounded by darkness. Perhaps that is what makes it so brilliant and beautiful.

Yes, on the porch beneath a summer sky I still sense my grandmother’s smile. And as the last lingering firefly disappears into the night I smile too…knowing I’m sure to find it (and joy) another summer evening or, when least expected, it will once more find me.

What’s a little thing that brings you joy?