Stay in Your Lane to Fulfill Your God-sized Dream

Have you ever sat back at the end of a day, a month and year and felt unsatisfied or fulfilled with your life? It’s not that you don’t have blessings, or some good things coming your way, there is just something inside that says, I would really love to fill in the blank.

Maybe you have a God-sized dream and you don’t want to say it out loud because someone might hear you and hold you to it or worse, laugh at you. But your dream is there, deep inside just waiting to be birthed.

May I tell you a few things that help us live out the vision God has placed within us?

1. Define your dream.

Often we don’t live out our God-sized dream because we don’t define it.

We might say some vague things such as:

  • I would like to help people.
  • I enjoy being a servant.
  • I love encouraging other people.

Those are great things to do. We should all aspire to do those. What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? You lose track of time. You are so energized and engaged that you have no idea that four hours have passed. For me, it’s writing, research and teaching.

Once you answer that question-

What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? 

Then you can define your dream by writing it down into something measurable.

I’m going to encourage women through teaching a Bible study.

I’m going to serve by opening up a food pantry for the community.

I’m going to practice hospitality by hosting a monthly coffee in my home.

Now, take your statement and break it down into steps that you can walk through and check off your list. Don’t be intimidated by this part. We often skip this step because for some reason we just think they will magically happen for us because we want it to.

God can open doors for us, it’s true.  In order for God to open a door, you have to drive to the building, so to speak.

God may redirect you a few times during the defining phase. It’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Taking the step to define your dream/vision is one step closer to doing something. Do something, lest you do nothing. Stay in your lane.png

2. Stay in your lane.

I think many of us (myself included) would sometimes rather coast in someone else’s lane and watch their God-sized dream come to fruition. It’s fun to be the helper and cheer someone else on until you reach the top of the mountain peak and realize your mountain is on the other side of the valley. All of the accolades for your friend will not fulfill your purpose. I get it. It’s scary putting ourselves out there and saying, “I want to write the book, not be on the launch team for the 100th time.” It sounds selfish to say we have dreams (I’ll get to that in a minute).

I would never say don’t help your friends. That’s a great investment of your time. Just make sure you drive in your own lane more than your friends’, neighbors’ and everyone shouting at you to join their cause. There’s a reason.

God gives you sufficient energy to do what He has called YOU to do, not what every lady in your church is doing.

God is not responsible for the physical and emotional consequences when you drive out of your lane. You will never arrive at the destination of your God-sized dream if you are driving aimlessly.

I’m preaching to the Guire here. For years my life was ordered by what all the other church ladies and my friends were doing. We were doing great stuff, guys! Serving and encouraging. Blessing others. My problem? I used my energy envelope on that good stuff and then was too exhausted to do my real job well. For awhile that job was exclusively mothering, homeschooling and running a co-op. When my kids got a little older, God directed me to start writing. After doing all the other good stuff, I had nothing left. No energy to write. Nothing. And that was not God’s fault. Or the other ladies. Or the church’s. It was mine. All mine.

3. Your dream isn’t selfish. It’s not about you at all.

Read that one more time. Often we don’t pursue our God-sized dream because we think it is selfish. If your God-sized dream is to run away to a tropical island and sip fruity drinks all day, then maybe it is. The truth is, I have never met a woman who hasn’t had a big dream. It takes time for us to own up to this because we don’t want to seem as if we want to make a name for ourselves. That’s not what God-sized dreams are about. They are about taking something that you can’t possibly do on your own, and giving God the glory every step of the way.

Your God-sized dream is about other people. It’s about God’s plan being lived out on this earth because you are obedient.

Years ago I was taking an online memoir writing class. Things were going great. I felt as if my writing was getting better. The teacher seemed to think so. She wrote me some encouraging words. I was feeling pretty comfortable with her…so, I told her my God-sized dream of helping a million orphans and of a vision I had. She told me I seemed unhinged and not to put that in my memoir. (*Just a note- don’t tell everyone your God-sized dream, not everyone gets it). If my God-sized dream includes helping orphans, is it really about me? Nope. Just like your dream. It’s about the people on the receiving end.

I’m sure you have a God-sized dream. It may be staying home and raising kiddos (that was mine for a season and then they grew up). It may be hosting a Bible study, writing a book, serving at an outreach, or fill in the blank. Take some time today and write down your dream. Make some measurable objectives so you can start driving in the right direction. If you, like me, know what your dream is and you need to get back in your lane, start putting up some boundaries. Many times, saying “NO” is the best thing you can do. A “Yes” that is accompanied by frustration, whining, complaining and dragging your feet the whole way is not producing any good fruit. And remember, your God-sized dream is not about you.

  • Thanks to Amy Breitmann for the “stay in your lane” idea!

 

The Upstairs and Downstairs Brain- Adult Edition

My most popular post of all time is “YELLING AND YELLING- THE DOWNSTAIRS AND UPSTAIRS BRAIN” which focuses on the brain and children. Let’s face it friends, children aren’t the only ones who get stuck in the downstairs brain. We adults can get stuck there too. We can end up living in survival mode. It becomes our new normal. We don’t even realize that we are living super stressed. Our cortisol levels are on high alert. We’re exhausted and overwhelmed, all the time.

“Imagine that your brain is a house, with both a downstairs and an upstairs. The downstairs brain includes the brain stem and the limbic region, which are located in the lower parts of the brain, from the top of your neck to about the bridge of your nose. Scientists talk about these lower areas as being more primitive because they are responsible for basic functions (like breathing and blinking), for innate reactions and impulses (like flight and fight), and for strong emotions (like anger and fear).” – The Whole Brain Child

The Upstairs and Downstairs Brain

The downstairs brain is survival mode. No logic is applied. No reasoning. Just illogical responses. The upstairs brain, on the other hand is completely different.

“ It’s made up of the cerebral cortex and its various parts- particularly the ones directly behind your forehead, including what’s called the middle prefrontal cortex. Unlike your more basic downstairs brain, the upstairs brain is more evolved and can give you a fuller perspective on your world.”The Whole Brain Child

It is sophisticated as opposed to primitive. This is where your creative process lives, imagining, thinking, planning. Logic lives here. This is where we want to set up the sectional, hang the curtains, artwork, and settle down with a cup of coffee. How do we live in our upstairs brain when we are constantly faced with circumstances, decisions and interruptions?

We react. That’s natural. Innate even. We need to pay attention to how we feel when faced with unexpected or stressful circumstances.

  • Are your palms sweating?
  • Is your heart beating out of your chest?
  • Do you feel as if you are going to jump out of our skin?

Your amygdala hijacks the brainstem and takes over the neocortex. You are in the downstairs brain. Not the creative, logical, artsy upstairs. We end up being reactive instead of proactive. Our downstairs brain is like a two-year old who says, “I want what I want NOW!” The brain stem only lives in the present. This is what leads us to eat the gallon of ice cream in one sitting. We make decisions based only on how we feel at the moment without regard for the future. We yell at our husbands or children. We don’t take the trip because we are too stressed.

How do we move back upstairs?

  1. Be aware of your feelings. Acknowledge them. Pray about them. Write them down if you prefer that method. “If you bury an emotion, you bury it alive.”- Gary Oliver Get rid of the belief that we must ignore emotions. They are there for a reason. God gave us emotions to protect us. Use them wisely. Don’t ignore them. The best way to be self-aware is to acknowledge your emotions.
  2. Holley Gerth advises us in her book, You’re Going to be Okay, to stop, drop and roll when it comes to calming the amygdala. Stop. Examine your emotions. Drop your expectations. And roll. Be flexible. This is where we stop on a dime. Get ready to pivot. Things happen. A child has an emergency surgery. Our car won’t start. Our schedules are full and we get sick. Pivot. I really wanted _________ to happen, but it didn’t work out, so I will ____________. This is an important step. Don’t skip it. Think these things through.Talk to yourself if you need to. In ETC training, we teach parents to have children tell stories of events in their lives aloud. We adults need to practice this as well. It serves the same purpose- allows us to put things in their place. We walk up the stairs and face problems with logic and creativity.
  3. After we adjust and pivot, we solve the problem for the moment. Crisis averted.Now take some time to be proactive. If your schedule is keeping you stressed, can you eliminate some things? Did you run to your downstairs brain because you didn’t stop and eat or rest (guilty). Are your emotions getting the best of you because of PMS? Do you need to take some time and renew your mind? Listen to some worship music or some uplifting podcasts. We need to feed our brain good food. What we put in our brains will eventually come out. Use this scripture as a guidleine for brain food.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.- Philippians 4: 8,9, The Message

We would all love to live under less stress. We’d like to thrive instead of just survive. Hopefully these simple steps will help us pivot and spend more time in our upstairs brains!

When Your Kids Don’t Make You Feel Happy or Fulfilled

“I don’t want to have any more children!” I confessed to Jerry late one night. We only had one child at the time. All of those early marriage conversations about adopting and having a large family seemed idiotic and idyllic-reality was just too hard to bear.

I had envisioned motherhood in a warm yellow,glowing light with fresh flowers on the table and a pressed aprons, a perfect home, and family dinner at the table every night. I would rise early in the morning like the Proverbs 31 woman, shower and put on pressed clothing, apply makeup and do my hair. Baby Guire would wake up smiling, giggling. We would spend the day cleaning, playing, sorting socks and preparing nutritious food together.

In the real Guire world, Jerry rarely made it home for dinner. I spent my days in an exhaustion-induced fog, wearing puke-covered PJs, catching up on Brady Bunch reruns while walking the floor with Audrey.

Why didn’t the daily tasks of motherhood fill me with joy?

Last Wednesday, I started a series on myths that parents believe. These myths keep us trapped in guilt and worry. I didn’t come up with these myths on my own. The credit goes to Leslie Fields, author of Parenting is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.  

“We are fed up with the myth -shamelessly hawked by the media-that motherhood is eternally fulfilling and rewarding, that it is always the best and most important thing you do… and if you don’t love every second of it, something is wrong with you.”- Susan Douglas, Meredith Michaels, The Mommy Myth

While I don’t agree with most of this quote, I can appreciate the “and if you don’t love every second of it, something is wrong with you”. I’ll get to that in a minute. There is a move in our society to diminish the value of motherhood and we are seeing the fruit of it in drunken brawls, warped morals and school shootings. Women are pursuing other goals, cause let’s face it ladies, motherhood doesn’t always make us feel happy or fulfilled.

myth

The truth is- having a family is a good and godly purpose. Believing that children will always make you feel happy and fulfilled is a myth. Anything worth doing is difficult. I have never done anything worthwhile that I didn’t have to overcome some hurdles or hit some brick walls. Have you? Ask me how many books I have written and saved on my laptop? I go into freeze mode when it comes to revising. Does that mean I should stop writing? No. Of course not. That means I need help and some encouraging writing groups to push me to the finish line.

I hear Moms say that parenting is too hard. I agree. It is hard. So is power walking five miles or training for a 5k. I would put those tasks at the bottom of the list when it comes to ranking them in order of difficulty. Parenting would be at the top. Yet, we do both of them, not because they are difficult, but because they are worth it.

  • Children are not in our lives to fulfill our needs. We are here to fulfill their’s.
  • Children are a blessing (read through the beatitudes for a longer list).
  • Happiness should not be our highest goal in life.
  • Children are made in the image of God and have infinite value.
  • Children help us learn to love as God does.

“I understood instinctively and theologically that until I poured my life out to others, my own desires would enslave me. I wanted paradoxical freedom that comes from giving my life away.” – Leslie Fields.

Early in my parenting years- my intellect and the current philosophy said it was “time for me” sprinkled in with some vain deceit, and I followed my own desires senselessly. I stayed up late watching what I wanted on TV.  It was “my time”. The next day, I awoke cranky, tired, and craving more “me time”. I demanded it. When the kids wouldn’t nap, I became frustrated mama, not because I knew they needed sleep, but because I wanted time. My “me time” wasn’t the fufillment of necessary rest, but an excuse to self-indulge and my “need” for it kept growing larger and larger.

I had a holy confrontation coming and it hit me hard. When my kids starting having some major health issues, God turned me into a purposeful parent. Not a perfect parent. Just one who saw her purpose. After my book of revelations, I began to parent on purpose. To plan. To envision where my kids would be in ten years in spirit, soul and body.

Where do we find happiness? 

Children teach us how to love, how to serve, how to walk in the fruit of the spirit. We are here to fulfill God’s purpose. So are our children. “God is using our children to conform us into the image of His Son.” (Leslie Fields)

Parenting is a worthy investment. It doesn’t always make us happy. Our joy comes from the Lord. We can receive that joy through parenting our children, but that doesn’t mean every moment is warm and fuzzy. Puke covered PJs still don’t make me jump for joy. We can learn to be content regardless of our circumstances. Some of them are poopy. Our feelings can fluctuate, but our purpose can stand. God’s purpose can stand. I don’t feel the same during mile five of a power walk as I do in mile three. Sometimes, after little sleep the night before, I feel as if I am a pirate with a heavy peg leg in mile five.

Maybe you feel like you are dragging today or this week or this month. Maybe you feel as if you are swimming through sludge? Wondering if parenting is all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you’re up to your elbows in peanut butter and wonder if you really have a purpose in this life. “Every day is a Monday”. (Carly Jones)

Dear friend, don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. Grab a new cup of perspective. Ask God to help you find joy in some moments. Ask Him to give you an eternal perspective. Do the hard stuff and trust that God will take care of the results.