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Ideas to Steal for a Family New Year’s Eve Ritual + 5 Prayers for 2017

Ideas to Steal for a Family New Year’s Eve Ritual + 5 Prayers for 2017

In some churches, a Watch Night service is held on New Year’s Eve. While the service likely originated with the Moravians, it has strong roots in the Methodist tradition. However, it gained new life in Black church communities in 1862 as traditional Watch Night services gave way to a literal waiting and watching for the dawning of 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation would take effect. So strong is this association that some have associated the invention of the Watch Night service with this event.

Since we can’t attend a watch night service this year, I’m creating my own ritual for our family at home. It’s brief, because that’s just practical. While Watch Night was traditionally held to coincide with midnight, much like our secular celebrations to ring in the next year, I plan to do it shortly after nightfall. Mainly this is because I’m battling a cold and probably won’t be staying up late myself. (Who am I kidding, I’m not a late night person even when I’m operating at 100%!)

My plan is pretty simple: light a candle, read a Bible verse, do a family reflection/goal setting time and close with a prayer.

For our reading, I plan to use Isaiah 65:17.

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

(Since one of my goals is to help our daughter become more familiar with the actual, physical Bible, I’ll be having her look this up herself instead of printing it out like I usually do for better flow.)

I created this printable for our reflection time but there’s a bunch of great printables out there. Last year, I compiled these. I like the opportunity to think about the things we liked about 2016 as well as looking forward to 2017. It’s a great opportunity to think about what goals we want to let go of as well as what ones we want to keep.

Here are 5 prayers I like for New Year’s Eve.

A Prayer at the End and Beginning of a Year

Lord, give me I pray:
A remembering heart for the things that have happened.
An attentive heart to what I have learned.
A forgiving heart for what has hurt.
A grateful heart for what has blessed.
A brave heart for what may be required.
An open heart to all that may come.
A trusting heart to go forth with You.
A loving heart for You and all your creation.
A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things.
A willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will
– Leighton Ford

 A Prayer for the New Year

God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.

Looking Forward 

In this time we turn our thoughts to how we can
touch and be touched,
love and be loved,
forgive and be forgiven,
heal and be healed,
so that the goodness of our lives is a shared blessing.

-Marta M. Flanagan

For Making All Things New

Lord, You make all things new You bring hope alive in our hearts And cause our Spirits to be born again.

Thank you for this new year For all the potential it holds. Come and kindle in us A mighty flame So that in our time, many will see the wonders of God And live forever to praise Your glorious name.

A Prayer for the New Year from Marianne Williamson

Dear God,
May my life be of use to You this year.
May my talents and intelligence
help heal the world.
May I remember how much I have
by remembering how much I have to give.
May I not be tempted by smaller things
but serve my larger mission of forgiveness and love.
Thus shall I be lifted, God,
and know joy this coming year and beyond.
Bless me and work through me
to bless the entire world.

 

Thanks for reading along in 2016 and cheers to a new year!

 


 

 

Why We Need Encouragers

Why We Need Encouragers

Beyond Walls
That was me on Saturday. No humblebrag here, I was honest-to-God ready to curl into a ball and cry. The nerves and self-doubt hit so quickly, I had no idea what to do with the energy. Lucky for me, I have among my Facebook friends some amazing encouragers. In less than two minutes, I had a self-confidence boost and had regained my excitement.

Many years ago, while leading an adult class on gifts of the spirit, a wiser woman than me spoke up. “I think my gift is encouraging people.” I nodded and smiled, as did most of the class. Inwardly, though, I was puzzled.

via GIPHY

Encouraging people? Anyone can encourage people. I felt as though I’d let this sweet lady down, leading her on a path where her “gift” wasn’t very special at all. (I know, this is horrible. Don’t judge, I was younger and full on in the throes of change-the-world-itis. I was pretty convinced that all world-changing had to happen on the grand stage of world events rather than the smaller platform of individual lives.)

Now, older and wiser, I can say with all certainty that the ministry of encouragement is no joke. It requires a generosity of spirit that is increasingly uncommon in today’s competitive, insecure world. Our news is filled with stories of hateful speech and ugly rhetoric. Our models in business and politics are self-absorbed and cutthroat. Our advertisements convince us that we’re not good enough unless we own x, y, and z products. We are a people convinced that we must win and win at all costs. Helping one another has no place in this picture.

Here’s where someone with the gift of encouragement can actually, literally, truly change the world. Being willing to light someone else’s flame is a counter-cultural move. It’s not the role of a weakling. An encourager isn’t someone who doesn’t have their own candle to hold. An encourager is someone whose candle shines bright enough that they can use it to light someone else’s.

My mistake was that I thought that encouragers were like cheerleaders. They’re very cool but not really necessary to the game itself. In reality, encouragers are more like coaches. They’re the pivotal role in every successful team. We need encouragers, period. In the words of Carol Brorsen over at Jamie Coats’s winged boots blog, encouragers “lift us from the hum-drum that blinds us to the truth of who we ARE”  http://www.wingedboots.com/about/

Encouragers see our best selves. More than that, they are courageous enough to reflect that back to us. This is the vital difference between an encourager and a discourager. Both see the potential of others. Both recognize the possibility for goodness, even greatness, in others. Discouragers see that as a threat. Where an encourager sees opportunity and abundance, discouragers see only scarcity and fear. They have bought into the notion that life is a zero-sum game. If one person has more, the other person must have less. When we believe this, we become selfish, closed off, constantly worried that someone else might have more. We lose the deepest kind of generosity–the generosity of love.

So, here’s a challenge for the week. How about if we thanked the encouragers in our lives? Because it turns out that even encouragers need encouragement. And we need them more than ever.


Linking up this week with the wonderful #wholemamas as we think about generosity.

A Deep Desire: When Spiritual Fluff Fails

A Deep Desire: When Spiritual Fluff Fails

“Can I have another piece of candy?”  Of course this is the voice of my daughter, eyeing the loot from Halloween.  We’re blasting through that stuff this year.  Maybe it’s a sign of a strong economy but she came home with a bucket of the good stuff.  Some of these people passed out full size candy bars, as if to emphasize that I’d left a bucket of cheap old Sixlets by my door with a note that said, “Take some.”

Much to my daughter’s dismay, I answered her question the responsible way.  “I know you think you want candy but you’re actually hungry for real food.  Have a carrot while I make dinner.”

A Deep Desire

Oh, this is so much easier said than done.  I recognized her frustration, the urge to kick and scream and maybe sneak into the candy while I wasn’t looking.  I’d been eating Tootsie Rolls and calling them lunch for days.  They were delicious but they weren’t really what I needed.  It was like when you have an itch on your back that you can almost reach.  You sort of just scratch all around the area and hope that the nerves will be fooled.  The candy-eating took on a frenetic edge.  They filled me up but left me unsatisfied.  So, naturally, I did the human thing and ate more of them.  I did this even though I knew that I was actually hungry for real food.  My heart was saying, “grab a carrot,” but my hands were plowing their way through a field of candy.

Why do we do this? 

Those who are good at quoting scripture would point to the passage from Matthew, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  Which doesn’t answer the question of “why” but it certainly lets us know we’re not alone.  It’s in the Bible, after all.  Thousands of years of human history witnessing to the fact that we are not good at doing what’s good for us.

Last week over at SheLoves, Kathy Escobar explored the analogy between the way we treat food and the way we treat our spiritual life.  “When you are spiritually hungry, what do you do to get relief?”  She asked.  Then she went on to make a list of exactly all the things I do before breaking down and actually reaching for the spiritual carrot.

How many times do we encounter a restlessness in our hearts and try to beat it by flipping on the TV?  Gossiping?  Reading?

Never?  Well, maybe you can teach me because I do it all the time.  All.  The. Time.  Sometimes it’s not even as obvious as TV.  Sometimes it’s something masquerading as something good.  “I’ll make time for quiet as soon as I get the dishes done…read this chapter…finish this lesson plan…”

I’m so good at avoiding spiritual hunger that I trick myself into thinking I’m being disciplined.

Why do we not listen to our deepest desires, the voice that is calling out for something more than busyness or distraction?

Why do we struggle to make time for the things that will make us truly content rather than the things that will dull the ache?

Honestly, I think its ego.  I think that somehow we still think that our minds know better than our hearts.  We still think that we can spend time doing what we want rather than what we need.  We still think we know better what will make us content and whole.  We still think that we know better than a whole host of humans who have gone before us, waving their arms, writing on stones, leaving messages in poetry and scripture saying, “make time to stop!”

We are like frail flowers eagerly leaping toward the sun without first digging deep into the rich soil below.  We want so badly to focus on the visible aspects of life rather than the unseen, but more sustaining, inner life.

Frail flowers quote

St. Augustine, who struggled so well with this, once prayed, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  This is a truth so simple and so profound that will hear it and hear it again without letting it seep into our souls.

We will be exhausted and unsatisfied until we learn to listen to that still, small voice vying for our attention.

Now, I like systems, plans and resolutions.  My urge to make a pledge right here and now to engage in 20 minutes of silent prayer each and every day for the rest of the year.  That’s only 50 days, which I just looked up and then found so shocking that I recounted for myself.  But as much as I love Big Ideas and Grand Plans, I also love the wisdom of doing what you can, when you can, and trusting that God will meet you where you’re at.

Instead of a pledge, here’s an invitation.  For today and today only, take 5 minutes to just be quiet with God.  Do whatever you want with it.  Sit quietly. Ponder a Bible passage.  Light a candle, journal or just breathe.  Do whatever nourishes your deepest desire for connection with God.  Then do it again tomorrow.  It’s as simple and profound as that.

The hunger is there for a reason; we might as well might time to feed it.

 


I’m linking up with #wholemama for the word “Desire.”  Follow me over to read more.

 

Learning to Leap

Learning to Leap

Courage

Julia Foote believed in a dream.  Literally, a dream.  One apparently induced by fever.  Her dream was that God had told her to preach.  In mid-19th century America, this was a pretty outlandish claim.  Women weren’t preachers.  The obvious thing happened.  She woke up from her fevered dream, told her friends, husband and pastor about it and was promptly reminded that it she was delirious.

In a wonderful post over at SheLoves Magazine, Joy Howard tells the story of Julia and her band of sisters, the ones who supported her through and through, believing her crazy story and urging her forward.  They became a “hallelujah chorus,” the people saying “I believe in you.  You can do this.”

Oh, how we need those people around us.  Friends, if you do not have those people in your lives, get them—and fast. 

But there is another thing at work here and it’s some mysterious blend of faith and inner resolve.  In people who succeed at wildly improbable things, there is a common ability to take risk.  They do it not because they believe that they can’t fail but because they don’t see failure as the end. 

In educational theory, it’s called it a “growth mindset.”  People who have a growth mindset believe that they grow and change.  This is harder than it sounds, especially for adults who tend to get stuck believing we’re done being made.  It’s easy for us to see that a child must fall in order to walk.  It’s hard to apply that to our own adult falls, no matter how many quotes about courage we read. 

The other day, a friend of mine described an ache in her gut, the desire to live her life differently.  “It’s just that I realized I’ve been living a pretty safe life,” she said.  This is, of course, the dilemma for almost everyone.  We feel a tug towards something more but we are afraid to fail so we choose safety. 

We don’t just look before we leap, we study the fall.  We focus on the bottom, make sure we have a plan, a back-up plan and a soft landing place.  By the time we’ve done all that, we’ve forgotten why we were making the jump in the first place—suddenly, the other side doesn’t even seem like the goal.  We’ve become convinced that avoiding failure, not achieving success, was the goal all along.  And of course, the easiest way to avoid failure is not to make the leap in the first place.

We have to learn to leap.       

If we make our lives primarily about safety, we will spend all of our time analyzing, strategizing, dreaming and never really doing.  Plans, goals and hopes only take us so far.  At some point, we have to take a risk.

Here is a comfort, though: God is too big to fail.   You might fail.  You might will make a mistake somewhere along the way.  Things will probably be harder and take longer than you thought.  But even then, God will go on, probably even weaving your mistakes into some beautiful new tapestry that was bigger and better than you’d imagined. 

I don’t know what dream is on your heart, what hope is waiting to be born in you.  But I do know that when we act with love, we act with God.  And there is no act of love that is too small (or too big) for God to use. 

So go ahead.  Love deeply.  Live deeply.  Grab hold of a dream and see where it takes you.

Living On Purpose: A Short Guide

Living On Purpose: A Short Guide

living purpose
Last week on my Barefoot Facebook page I shared this lovely illustration:

Simple-Venn-Diagram-Help-You-Figure-Out-Your-Purpose

It caught my attention because I’d done a few posts on discernment, aka “figuring out what the heck we’re supposed to be doing with our lives,” a while back.  Also, because that is hands-down always one of the most popular topics when I’m speaking or teaching.  And mostly because I am constantly trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
So here’s what I like about this illustration: it takes a couple fuzzy ideas and makes them easy to understand.  It had the full effect of an “a-ha” moment for me, lightbulb over my head and everything.  The difference between vocation and mission?  Passion and career?  Yes!  It’s a framework I’ll hang onto.  
But.
Here’s what I don’t like about this handy-dandy Venn diagram on steroids.  That little star in the middle labeled “purpose.”  Now that little star in the middle has to be labeled something because it is obviously a Big Deal.  Actually, some other versions of the diagram label the center “the sweet spot.”  Which makes more sense because it would be, obviously, a sweet spot.  Getting paid to do what you love and are good at and the world needs?  Hallelujah!  It makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it.
And it’s fairly unrealistic.  I know, I am always throwing water on the fire of hope that we can live the perfect life.  

I’m one of those nuts who believe that discipleship means making sacrifices.  

It’s not all living in a dream home, saving the world and getting paid for it.  And more often than not, I really believe that looking for this perfect life–this amazing place where all of our hopes and dreams come together, starred in the middle so we can’t miss it–holds us back from living with purpose.  

Now I’m not just picking on the poor person who adapted this diagram.  (I feel bad that someone’s feelings might be hurt, even on the internet by some lady they don’t even know and/or care about.)  It’s not really about the diagram, it’s about some bigger, human yearning that we’ve somehow tried to mash into a culture of status and consumption.  It’s like we’ve taken the very best of what’s inside of us, this desire for Something More, and tried to wrap and package it for easy use.  
Instant Purpose
Instant Purpose
Case in point: we talk about having a purpose.  Having it.  Like it’s something we own.  And maybe that’s the problem right there.  Maybe it’s time to stop thinking about “purpose” like it’s a commodity.  Maybe, instead, we could think about purpose as something we do, a series of choices that we make.  Maybe a life of purpose is built second-by-second.
Now here’s where it gets a little bit tricky because if a life of purpose is built second-by-second, then every second matters.  And that sounds like a whole lot of pressure.  There’s a downward spiral that starts with “making every second count” and ends with “never taking a break,” or “berating myself for those 5 minutes spend on Facebook.”  Neither of those takes us down the path of fulfillment.  So let’s hold that idea loosely so as not to make ourselves crazy.
What we might realize, though, is that there is power in this idea, too.  We might realize that it frees us up to make a thousand small, purposeful decisions rather than frantically trying to nail down the One True Thing that makes our life worth living.
Now, this does mean that we have to make choices in line with our priorities.  I know, right?  This sounds so obvious.  But it’s one of those principles that bears repeating because we are so bad at it.  (Ok, I am so bad at it and I’m assuming some of you are too.)  If you walked up to me today and asked me to name my goals right now, one of the things I would say is “I want to learn Spanish.”  Now, ask me how I spend my free time.  “I’m on season 4 of Murdoch Mysteries.  Also, I am desperately waiting for the next season of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to come out.  Hey, did you know there’s a new trailer for the upcoming series?”  
Now, watching every period mystery series ever made does not make it onto my list of priorities but sometimes I find myself living as though it’s my most important task.  And I do it with big things too.  I will rant and rave about the importance of taking care of the poor and walk right by the homeless person at the intersection.  I can cite chapter and verse about letting the children come and fail to make time for the children living right in my own neighborhood.  Sometimes the problem isn’t that we don’t know our purpose(s), it’s that we aren’t carrying them into daily life.
You know what?  I don’t think that’s just because of laziness.  I think sometimes that’s because we don’t really believe that it matters.  There’s this thing that happens to me when I’m faced with a really dirty house.  It’s called Dirty House Paralysis and it should be diagnosable because it is a real thing.  I look at my dirty house and I know it needs cleaned and I can’t figure out where to start.  I’m not making this up.  It is so totally overwhelming to me that I turn my back on the whole thing.
Sometimes we suffer from Broken World Paralysis.  We look around and we truly believe that we can’t make a difference.  There are so many needs and our hands, wallets and purses are so limited.  So we turn our backs on the whole thing.  

 

If you’ve battled Dirty House Paralysis, you know that the same solution applies to Broken World Paralysis.  Start anywhere.  I was greatly comforted to have this thought pop up in my email recently:  

It’s important to do something even though we find it difficult to imagine how our small contribution can have any impact at all on this immense and hopelessly complicated problem.  Leave that to God.

Br. David Vryhof, Society of St. John the Evangelist

You know what’s really funny?  I hear people all the time talk about feeling like they don’t make a difference with their lives.  I hear them say that they don’t feel talented or worthwhile enough to do something.  And every time, every single time, I am astonished.  “What!?  You!?”  Because to me, it always looks like those people should be walking around in complete assurance that they matter and they can do amazing things.
So I feel confident saying this to you–the ones I know in person and the ones I don’t–you matter and you can do amazing things.  Start anywhere.
Living with Purpose_ A Short Guide1. Start

linking up this week with #wholemama

When Life Has Become Boring (a #wholemama post)

When Life Has Become Boring (a #wholemama post)

The boy was eight years old. He was one of those precocious types. “Smart as a whip,” as the older members of the congregation used to say. “Full of energy,” they would also say. These things were both true.

In addition to being smart and full of energy, he had a certain capacity for getting his way. “Tell it again,” he would demand every Sunday morning and because I believed in following the children’s interests and cultivating their passions, I would oblige.

“One day, Moses was on the mountain when he saw a burning bush. He went closer and heard a voice telling him to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.”

“We should be taking off our shoes in church.” The boy announced one day. He announced it as certainly as he announced anything else. “This is a holy place.”

Well, of course church seems like a holy place to a child, especially perhaps a child in this church, where the congregants were fiercely proud of their historic church building and talked often about what a special place it was. It is not really unusual for a child to take the holiness of church as a given fact. Children typically know these things about church:

  •                 God loves them and is with them always.
  •                 The stories in the Bible are important
  •                 The answer to any question during the children’s sermon is “Jesus.”

And, of course, the church is a holy place.

So what was surprising about this little person’s observation wasn’t that he believed the church was holy, it was that he demanded that we act in a way that was in line with our beliefs. His logic could be mapped out with the precision of an algebraic equation. If church is holy and the Bible is true then we ought to be taking off our shoes. It checks out.

Bush

As adults, we also have a series of beliefs. For many of us, they are things like this:

  •                 Make the most of each moment.
  •                 The simple life is best.
  •                 Love each other.
  •                 God is with us always.
  •                 There is holiness in the ordinary.

These are good beliefs. We don’t have any trouble believing them, really.  Our challenge is acting in line with them. We have the tendency to forget these things in our normal, everyday life. We forget them because, after living the same story over and over again, we stop finding it interesting. No one ever wakes up and says, “Oh yes! Tell me the story again of how I get to get up and go to work!” Instead, we are more prone to finding that in their familiarity our stories have become boring.

This is normal and human and probably rooted in some practicality.  We can’t wake up every single morning and naively ponder the magic of the washing machine, nothing would ever get done. But sometimes we go the other way. We become bored with our sameness, our ordinary routines. We become listless and even depressed. We feel irrelevant to this great big world, as though our ordinariness is synonymous with meaninglessness.

Last week I stumbled on a little memory garden tucked in the corner of a local park. There was a small spiral walkway made up of bricks. Each brick held the name of a person, assumedly someone being honored with a donation to the project. In the center was a large brick bearing this quote by Anna Quindlan:

Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittery mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to live, really live…to love the journey, not the destination.

I took a picture of it because I love Anna Quindlan and also I desperately need this reminder. The truth is, I am reeling from the realization that I am fairly ordinary. In our young adult years when everything is ahead of us and dreams are cheap, we rest our identity in the fact that we will change the world. Then we grow and realize that following our dreams means making trade-offs.   It is suddenly much, much harder than we once thought it would be.

This is why we must constantly be reminding ourselves of the holy bits of treasure buried in familiar pathways. Otherwise, this would be the end. We would look at the long, gray walk ahead of us and become discouraged from believing that we matter at all. We would sit down and cry, convinced we’ll never reach the end (however we’re measuring that) and simply stop trying.

Path

Friends, I’m not really telling you anything you don’t know. I’m simply saying that if, like me, you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer ordinariness of your life that you take a few minutes to recalculate. I’m saying that sometimes, we don’t need anything outside of the life we already have; we just need to balance the equation. If God is with us and there is holiness in the ordinary, then you matter just as you are—boring, mundane, you, right now, walking whatever boring, mundane path is ahead of you. And if this is all true, then the solution to ordinariness isn’t to walk faster, it’s to walk slower. As slowly, perhaps, as if you’d taken off your shoes and were wandering around barefoot.


I’m writing again this week with the #wholemama group.  There is so much good stuff here.  And while I’m truly terrible at managing my social media profiles, I’ll keep posting a few of my favorites to my Facebook page so if you don’t make it to Esther’s site, you can check out a curated version there.

wholemama

How to Live the Dream (Part 1)

How to Live the Dream (Part 1)

Siting by lakeToday I’m starting a bit of a series on discernment.  Discernment is fancy for “figuring out what you are supposed to be doing in your life.”  It is a topic of passion for me right now, in part because it is an area of constant struggle for me and in part because it is an area so many people around me have been asking about.  So let’s tackle it together in a fairly random fashion.  I’ll just throw some ideas at you and you see what works. 

First topic: priorities.  


Here is what I want from life:

I want to do work that makes a difference, makes me happy and pays a lot.  Also, I’d like to be famous.

Judging from the number of books, blogs and articles based around this idea, I’m guessing that many people want that.  Google “live your dream get paid” and there are 33,200,000 results.  That’s 33 million, ranging from websites selling ebooks (a lot of those, actually) to news articles.

You know what? A lot of the info might actually be good.  We do need help figuring out our gifts and how to use them.  We need help figuring out possible career paths.  We need help figuring out what will give our lives meaning.

However, I do not think you will find that magic combination of happiness, fame, fortune and meaning in your career.  Anybody that tells you otherwise is full of baloney.  I think that if you are really serious about having any of this, you have to start by looking long and hard at your dreams.  Here’s why:

First off, there is only one–only one–of those things on my list of wants that is promised to me.  That is a life of purpose.  We matter.  God matters.  Others matter. If we choose to live these truths, we will find ourselves living a life that is deeply meaningful.  But no one promised that it would be easy, that it would pay well, that it would make us happy or even that anyone else will notice the good we are doing.  How we live out the meaning in our lives is between us and God.  That’s it.  Not really a high selling point, huh?

Second, money doesn’t follow purpose.  This is one way we know that we live in a broken world: there is an inverse relationship between careers that help people and careers that make money.  Yes, there are exceptions.  Doctors make a decent living.  But they make more if they’re plastic surgeons living in Beverly Hills than they do if they’re general practitioners in rural Alabama.  As much as we want a one-track, clear cut life, you cannot pursue meaning and pursue money in the same place.

Third, the life of meaning will not make you happy.  It won’t.  I’m sorry to be the bearer of this bad news–I want it to be true so badly.  The truth is this: the life of meaning asks us to enter into suffering.  Willingly.  That’s the way Jesus taught.  It is the way of all great, wise spiritual leaders.  You have to be willing to have your heart broken, your anger riled, your spirit exhausted.  You cannot do this if your primary goal is happiness.  You have to be willing to live life precariously balanced on the edge of life’s ugliness.  Will moments of happiness come?  Almost definitely.  Will you be content?  Yes, if you do hard, inward work.  Will you spend every day frolicking in the ocean, relishing in the joy of just being alive?  Not likely.

The best thing we can do for ourselves as we’re pondering what to do with our lives/what to be when we grow up/where God is calling us now, is look long and hard at what we want.  Too often we get stuck in looking for the perfect thing.  We want one, easy solution to this great big human question: “what should I do with my life?”  We don’t do anything because we haven’t found “the one” thing.  We forget that not everything is compatible.  All of our needs and wants won’t be met by any one thing; there will be choices to be made.  If we want to live the dream, we better be clear as to what we’re dreaming about.

So, here is the question: what comes first on your list of wants?  Money, fame, family, meaning, happiness?  Write, dream, pray or ponder about it.  Be honest.  Then set it aside and let it work in you for while.  No pressure, no judgment.