Yesterday, by the recommendation of a beloved friend, I started reading "Adventures for your Soul" by Shannon Kaiser. I admit, I was a bit skeptical about reading it, as I'm currently in a fiction kick and it is more abiding to the self-help and inspiration categories. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a read.
By the time I finished the first chapter, I had highlighted several lines and found myself relating to the words of the author more than I had expected to. Kaiser challenges readers to let go of any regard for current circumstances and dream unhindered a vision for their ideal futures.
The word vision is something I'm comfortable with. I've heard it in sermons and at conferences, I've read it in books, and I've studied it in education courses. As an adult, though, it is challenging to allow your life vision to span the widths of your imagination untouched by the chains of reality, finances, and obligations.
I thought back to when I was a young girl and teen, naive and full of unmovable optimism. I would spend hours at night (before smartphones were a thing) imagining my future. Looking back, many of my dreams came true. I imagined that I was a bit of a fashionista, that I'd do a little jet setting, that I'd have a blog, that I would be a model, that I would experience life in NYC, and that I'd study communications and media in college, and graduate. In many ways, those things did become my reality at some point in my young adulthood!
This left me feeling inspired. If all of the things I once dreamed, visualized, and envisioned eventually did seep into and materialize in my reality, can that happen now? Maybe the reason dreams stopped coming true in my life as I entered full-on adulthood is simply because I stopped dreaming.
At any rate, what do I have to lose? Kaiser suggests that readers become dreamers- spending a few minutes each day daydreaming about our personal ideal life. She encourages us to forget about the obstacles and what we don't want to happen, and to focus entirely on what we DO want in our lives.
Obviously, my dreams and desires are quite different today than they looked ten years ago. I dream of a life in a small town in the Carolinas, preferably coastal. I dream of a well-lit home with plenty of greenery surrounding. I dream of a small family, cozy couches, and quiet evenings. I dream of screened in porches, corner cafes, and community. I dream of teaching, ministering, and writing. I dream of lots of time spent outdoors, doing the things I love with people I love. I dream of living life so well, that I inspire others to do the same.
I wonder how many of us have sweet little dreams, God sized dreams, and plain old dreamy dreams tucked away in our hearts, buried under current circumstances and limitations of our own making. Maybe, we can all just forget for a moment the pressing matters of the day and spend some time thinking about what it is we really want in life, before we blink and find that it's left behind.
What better way to get this vision project started than with a vision board? Check out the Pinterest board I made to transpire and refine my desires.
I came across and read a blog post recently that was titled "The Husband List".
As I read through the rather extensive list, I found that it actually struck a chord with me. I realized that I had never sat down and evaluated what qualities I wanted in a partner. Like many other single women and men my age, I have considered a lifelong companion to be part of my wishlist for the future. As with most aspects of my hopes for the future, I find myself looking to God for wisdom and direction... but then I realized: How could I pray for the perfect spouse for me when I had no idea what that would even look like?
If I am planning to meet someone with whom I'm compatible, I need to be able to recognize it when I do. So, I decided I'd break it down into a few qualities and characteristics that I know I can't settle for less than.
1. An Active Faith
It is repeated more than once in the Bible that believers should not pursue relationships with nonbelievers. I think that in the past, I often dated nonbelievers, or those who had "lukewarm" faith but weren't in a daily, prayerful, reverent relationship with God. My logic was often that I could "help" them or lead them to God. While outreach is an important part of evangelical faith, it does not apply to dating and marriage. "Iron sharpens iron" : It is clear and crucial to me now that I need to hold out for a person whose faith is equal with my own, in order to grow in my own walk with Christ and to build a marriage on the values and beliefs that are important to me.
I am SO not into fluff or sugarcoating. While at one point in my life, I tended to be charmed by mischief and charisma, I now find myself drawn to the transparent and humble. There are few things more attractive to me than someone who is completely, transparently honest- with themselves, me, and others! I fancy myself to be an honest person, often to a fault. I respect someone who will tell me the truth so much more than someone who would rather tell little white lies. This makes room for the kind of stability and trust that is essential to living a healthy, positive life.
If there is any part of a potential future spouse that I cannot trust, I am turning the other way. I used to mistake non-trustworthiness as mysteriousness, leading me down a rabbit hole of regret. If someone is harboring secrets, those secrets should be seen for what they are: red flags. Hidden areas in someones life are not to be mistaken for elusive or attractive mysteriousness. A healthy person doesn't feel the need to hide things from those who are close to their heart. A marriage partner is someone with whom you are entrusting with many important aspects of your life: your body, your future, your finances, and the lives of your future (or, in my case, current) children. Complete and total trust needs to be there.
This goes hand in hand with honesty and trustworthiness. I LOVE genuine people. There is something so refreshing about people who can be themselves and speak their heart and mind without worrying about what others think. Looking at all of my girl friends, it is astonishing how many completely genuine, real, open, honest, loving, and absolutely, naturally, fabulous people I've met in my life! Surely if I can find ten (or more!) genuine girl friends whom I love dearly, I can find one genuine male companion to embark on the journey of life with.
5. Healthy Friendships, Healthy Family Life
Every family deals with hard stuff. Every family has their moments. Even so, family is such an important part of my life. It is important to me to end up with someone who has a consistent relationship of respect, forgiveness, and love with their family, and a willingness to develop one with mine. Along with positive family relations, healthy friendships are a big indicator of a person's character. If someone can maintain positive relationships with friends over the years, it is the truest testimony of that person's loyalty, reliability, and accountability. This is not to say that everyone should be an extrovert with lots of acquaintances or that everyone should be the type of person who is always on the social scene and making plans, but I do think it is important to have at least one or two intimate and enduring friends in one's life.
Okay, okay... so this one might make me sound pretentious or goofy. I can't help it! I'm a teacher, for goodness sake. Education is important to me. Ideas, wisdom, and creativity hold my interest. I want a partner who can hold a conversation! I love good, thoughtful conversation. I love writing. love reading. What can I say? The way to my heart is a good book recommendation! I want a partner who loves to learn AND who can teach me new things. Also- proper grammar. Sorry.
I don't mean placing the salad fork to the right of the dinner fork. I mean not being rude! I hate being rude. I hate when people are rude to me. I hate when other people are rude to others. It is just no good, and completely unnecessary! As silly as it may sound, I want to be with someone who is as kind and polite to the cashier at a fast food restaurant as they would be toward their potential future boss. There is something so attractive about people who enjoy making other people feel great. Please and thank you.
Disclaimer: I had previously posted this, but deleted it on account of it being too bold. Upon encouragement from my wonderful bestie/editor/fellow-seeker-of-the-good-life, I decided to re post it. Thanks, Lindz.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:33. This verse has been flooding my soul and captivating my heart for years now. It is one of those scriptures that constantly and abundantly quench the heart and calm the mind. There are times when I find myself clenching to it for the balance and peace it provides.
1. When I Want To Be Better
It happens to the best of us. Some days, I start to fret. I feel restless. I get overwhelmed by the desire to live out my God given purpose. I worry that if I forget something, just one tiny detail, I'll somehow miss out on my fate. This verse reminds me that I don't have to wonder if I'm doing all of the right things to receive what God has planned for me. I don't have to run myself weary striving and trying to be better or to do more. All I have to do is Go After God with all of me.
2. When I Don't Know What To Do
Part of what makes this scripture so satisfying is in its ability to SIMPLIFY life. When I feel confused and I don't know what the next step is, or I'm not sure what to do, I can read this verse and my next steps are quite literally simplified into SEEKING GOD, because everything else will follow.
3. When I Need Something
I am a blessed person living in a privileged time and culture. I admit that I hardly know what it means to truly be in NEED. However, anytime I FEEL like I need something, or I really really want something, or I worry that I might not have something I'll need eventually, this verse surfaces in my mind and I am flushed with a sense of peace. I know that God will provide. He always does.
4. When I Worry
I am instinctively an anxious person! Sure, it probably has something to do with all of the caffeine I consume, and I often appear to be as calm and cool as a cucumber! Internally, though, I often battle with anxious, worrisome, troubling thoughts: what ifs and worst case scenarios. This bit of scripture dissolves those troubling thoughts. I am reminded that as long as I am pursuing God and seeking to live obedient to Him, I have no need to worry. I have no reason to fret.
"See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you- you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:28-34
Quiet. In our busy, crowded, electronic, and fast paced culture, things can get a little noisy, to say the least.