My niece Devon celebrated her seventh birthday a few weeks ago and my sister transformed her patio into a puppy playground for the birthday party. Devon's friends were asked to bring their favorite stuffed dog and my job was to help the girls string beaded collars for their dogs and scoop out pup-corn into their doggie bowls.
The girls played pin the tail on the puppy, paraded their dogs around the pool and ate pup-cakes and dog bone cookies. But a few days after her party Devon told me she just doesn’t feel like she’s seven yet since she was six for so long. She says she forgets that she's grown up a little bit.
I understand what she means because sometimes on the hard days, I feel like I've fallen backward and my dreams have long gone to the dogs. Things aren’t working out like I thought or hoped. I pray and God doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want him to.
I feel like a petulant child when I don’t get my way. When I ask why. When I want to know how much longer it’s going to be until I get there. Even though I’m not quite sure where there is exactly.
It's on these difficult days that I start to wonder if my dreams are really from God. Maybe I'm wrong about what I thought I heard him say. I feel squeezed in and stretched out beyond what I can stand.
I'm not sure what I'm waiting for, where I'm headed or if I should keep going. But the weight of my dreams isn’t resting on me. I have to remember that my dreams call for me to do the hard work but to ultimately leave the outcome in God’s capable hands. That means the how, the why and the when aren't up to me.
So I pull out my journal to read what I've written when the dream was fresh and new. For all the difficult days to come, I can look back and remember.
I remember all the God-moments that happened along the way. Even now when it seems so dark, I still see those moments glowing, just as bright as they were when they first dazzled my heart.
I remember the times God whispered to me. When the dream was new and I asked him what to do, he whispered, pray. So still I am praying, even though it seems discouraging.
I remember a verse he showed me saying, Forget the past. Look, I'm doing a new thing, do you not see it?
Although I write for a career, I didn't think I could write a blog. I thought I couldn't keep at it. I didn't own a camera or know how to take photos. I didn't feel confident to even get started. But a friend helped me build the blog template, buy a camera and showed me how to shoot photos. I decided to write about being single and experiencing God more deeply through a disappointing friendship when I had hoped for more.
Now as I look back two years ago when I started writing my blog, I can clearly see God's fingerprints on this dream because it was more than I could ever imagine doing on my own. I found I really could find something to write about every week if I thought about God's goodness to me.
Even though opening the door to parts of my soul for anyone to read is terrifying, it's here in the middle of my dream, that I look up and realize that I've moved forward. Stretched and grew. Faced down my fears.
And the man who I felt rejected me? I ran into him a few weeks ago. He said we really should grab coffee to catch up. And I realized that I was no longer the least bit interested. I no longer felt rejected because I was doing the declining.
I was reminded again how God knows just what we need. He cares about the details and I love how he works specifically and personally in my life.
I know my life's journey is more about experiencing God than reaching for my dreams. Even though what happens may surprise me, I know that God has planned it or allowed it. I have to trust that he has something to teach me, show me or change in me.
I‘d like to approach what happens in my life with the spirit of the seven-year-old girls at Devon’s party. With wide-eyed hopes and a zest for life. Instead of letting discouragement and unbelief crawl up and lick my feet, I want to put on my party hat and pull up a chair to the beautifully decorated table of my life.
There are still some dreams waiting there for me. Dreams of adventure and travel, friendships and relationships, accomplishments and experiences. I’m grateful for what’s already here and for what will come. I trust in God’s purposes for what he has planned for my life and I’ll follow where he’s leading.
So in the midst of those dog days of my dreams, some encouragement along the way is always nice. When Devon is at my house, she likes to pretend she's a dog and types notes in my phone for me to read later.
On one of those hard days, I find a new one. It says, You are the best aunt in the world. I love you. Your friend, Pup
And that's the kind of puppy love that takes the bite right out of the dog days and tells me to keep on dreaming.
I'm linking up with God-sized Dreams today. Click the image to read their stories about their dreams!