Tag Archives: hope


I make a vision board every year, and I’ve done so for about five years.

I’ve written about my vision boards before. I’m part of a small circle of women who gather some time in November or December to create vision boards for the coming year. We enter the process prayerfully, asking God ahead of time what the year’s word or theme should be. Then we come together, blank canvases in hand. We also bring the current year’s board, and we each share how God worked through the items on the poster. Next we invite the Holy Spirit to lead us in the words and images we’ll pull from leftover magazines, and we begin. We give ourselves several hours to complete the task.

I mean … it’s kinda funny. We each sit on the floor with a 99¢ poster board before us. We’re surrounded by the hurricane-like chaos of ripped magazines, discarded bits of paper and cheap shiny embellishments, using–then discarding–scissors, vying for glue sticks, pasting cut-out words and images to the poster while the pink tips of our tongues poke from the corners of our mouths. It’s like elementary school or something! Yet God uses all of it. Our prayers, our first-grade tools, our silly seriousness. It’s so like him to meet us in this child-like moment, when what we’re doing feels huge and important to us, but probably not so much to a Father with greater responsibilities on his radar. Yet he looks at his daughters’ hand-made work with loving eyes, discerning his own face and our very hearts in each sticky cut-out, and judging them valuable, important. It’s very kind, very loving of him. But I digress.

Earlier this week I was lying in bed looking at my 2014 board (it’s on the wall beside my bed so I’ll see it when I wake) thinking about the post I needed to finish, and my eyes landed on the bottom left corner. It’s a picture of a woman striking a punching bag. Across the bottom I’d pasted the word “I’mpossible.”

photo 2 photo

And that’s what I love about making a vision board: The vision part.

When I was sitting on my friend’s living room floor making this board, I didn’t really think about why I was attracted to that picture. I just cut it out–and then that picture made it to the board when other images I’d chosen were eventually thrown in the discard pile.

And I didn’t put any deep thought into why I cut out “I’mpossible.” I remember thinking it was catchy. But why did I paste that word/phrase on top of that image?

As always, at different times through the year my eyes would be drawn to different areas on the board. Almost every day I’d stare at the board, my eyes skipping and skimming over the words and images. Occasionally they’d land on some segment, and I’d suddenly find context in those unpremeditated scraps.

That woman punching that bag with that word beneath her has been there all year. My eyes always skipped past her, until earlier this week, when suddenly that corner of the board had context. For so long I didn’t think it was possible to be comfortable in my own skin: To be wholly myself and still wholly acceptable. To be strong and be a woman. To be powerful and determined woman and be a Christ-follower who is feminine and pleasing to God. But it is, and I am. I’m possible.

What ands are you struggling to reconcile?

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Hopes and Dreams

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

–Langston Hughes


Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

–Proverbs 13:12

You know how, when you’re a kid, you dream of being something or doing something particular? And maybe you believe it’s possible just because that’s what kids do.

Then you grow up, and you forget the dream because it was just a childish whim. Or you remember the dream, and you laugh because it really was silly. Or you chase the dream with all you have, because the vivid, bright beauty of it never faded with age (this being the ideal, of course).


Or you make the dream smaller and squeeze it into your ordinary life. Now it’s dull and dust-covered. Or you bury it alive, and it’s dying away.

I have this dream that’s been part of me as long as I can remember. I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve never laughed at it, never. But it feels too big for me. I’ve been afraid to hope for it, afraid to desire it.

I heard someone say once that the phrase “hope deferred” from the Proverbs doesn’t mean your hopes have been dashed by people or circumstances. Instead, it’s when you and I defer (delay, postpone) our own hope that our hearts become sick. The difference seems subtle at first, but it’s rather profound. When we choose to put off hope … well, nothing good comes from it.

I wonder if that’s how Hughes meant it, too, when he spoke of a deferred dream. This beautiful fragrant thing, like fresh ripe fruit, that when we leave aside for too long, it rots.

And have you ever noticed how dreams and hopes go hand-in-hand? They’re like sisters, or fraternal twins. Hopes (desires) and dreams.

What is your hope, your dream? What have you done with it?

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Sometimes the world closes in
And it’s dark and scary.

The shadows stretch out and distort
the things that once looked “right” and made sense.

Sometimes it feels like you’ve been
wandering in the dark for ages and ages.
You’ve been gone forever,
and people are just, just now noticing.

You thought God didn’t notice either.
He doesn’t seem to have much to say nowadays.
He doesn’t seem to be in arms’ reach lately.

Then sometimes He says something,
and you hear the whisper of His voice
and it feels like the warm breath of your mother
against your ear when she tells you it’s gon’ be alright.

It’s almost too beautiful to believe,
too wonderful to accept,
too sweet to swallow.

If you could hold a moment in your hands forever,
this would be it.

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Joyful Moments

Have you ever done a vision board? It’s a tool to help map out dreams and/or goals. My friend first introduced the idea to me and another friend last January. We wanted to visualize our dreams and goals for 2010, and for us the endeavor involved prayer and the expected guidance of the Holy Spirit.

According to my 2010 vision board, I wanted to be creative and stylish, look good, be a great mom, get together with friends, write, be crafty, grow, spice things up in the bedroom, enjoy unguilty pleasures, get organized, travel, and more.

Looking at that board today, it’s so cluttered that very little stands out. It can barely contain everything I tried to cram on it. Of all I hoped the board would reflect about 2010, the thing it says most clearly is: There was entirely too much crap going on. (How apropos, although I didn’t notice it until after I did this year’s board.) 

I also realized that the old board held labels of what I thought I should be, or what I thought others expected of me, instead of what I hoped and dreamed for myself. This year I was determined that would not be the case. 

My theme for 2011 is “joyful moments.” Here’s the quote by Brene’ Brown that inspired it:

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy.

Joy is not a constant.  It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.  Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments.  Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy.  That would eventually become unbearable.

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration.

In that regard, I chose a black canvas to better display the bright words and colors I cut from the magazines. Each piece draws the eye away from the black. Frankly, the bright colors look better because of the black. That’s what I hope the joyful moments of 2011 will be like too. I also rejected words and images that caught my eye, and instead gravitated to the ones that caught my heart. The result:

  • I want to see my children and my family blossom.
  • I want to rebuild my ability to hope and expect good things of myself and in my life.
  • I want to walk with bravery and be wise and open.
  • I want to strive for strength in balance in what’s important.
  • I want to appreciate all of who I am. 
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A few months ago my church welcomed a gentleman named Sy Rogers. I was privileged to take part in a leadership session he taught, and something he shared had “encouragement potential.” I find I keep thinking about it. If I’m not careful, I might let it give me hope …

I’ll try my best to do this idea justice.

We (people in pain) tend to think of life as a straight line from A to B. An event happens on the timeline, we move past it and it’s gone.

But life is more like a spiral. You march along the spiral and an Event happens and it’s horrible. You get past it, and you assume you’re done with it. But lo and behold, ten years later The Event rears its ugly head. Suddenly you’re dealing with the pain of some horrible 10-year-old Event like it happened yesterday. What the heck!

Sy explained it this way: When The Event happened, you weren’t ready to properly deal with it. Your life, your experiences, your understanding, your relationship with God hadn’t yet equipped you to deal with The Event. It had to go away, and it had to come back now–ten years later–because it’s in this stage of your life that you’re equipped to rightly deal with The Event.

Today. With accumulated experience and understanding, and with a time-tested relationship with God that you didn’t have when you were 5, or 15, or 25 or whatever. It has to be now. Because now you’re ready.

So … maybe now, in my late 30s, I’m finally ready. I mean, this sucks. But maybe God saved this for now because, even though it feels like it’s too heavy and it’s too much for me today, I definitely didn’t have the chops for it back whenever. If it’s this hard now … it would’ve crushed me then.

Yes, despite how it feels, I’m thinking maybe now I’m ready.

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June 20, 2009

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

That night after I watched the horrible movie (and I raged at my husband as the representative of all Men), I laid in bed and sobbed until I couldn’t breathe through my nose. While he drifted off into oblivious sleep, I considered.

That bitter, unforgiving itchbay I see in the mirror is only part of the picture. What I really am is a ball of pain, wrapped in multiple layers of self-preservation, and finished with an outer shell of spikes, rusty nails and barbed wire. Sort of like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, except a little bigger and slightly less delicious.

I sat up in bed, partly so I could breathe again, but mostly to talk with Jesus. I said something like, “This is what I am, but it’s not what I want to be. It’s so deeply entrenched and so much a part of my DNA that I don’t know how to change. What am I supposed to do with all this pain? What can you do with me?”

Then I remembered a dream I used to have: There was an abstinence ministry in my heart. I dreamt of helping, loving, encouraging girls and young women, talking to them about abstinence, helping them live it out. I was willing to let my pain be like manure: Stinky, yes. But fertilizer for something much better. Funk with a purpose.

Then the weeds came. “You’re not even good at talking to people.” “Why would a teenager listen to you?” “What if it hurts?” “Who has time?” “What if it fails?” I was afraid, so instead of a garden, the pain became a landfill. The dream got buried under a bunch of distractions and life and crapola. Eventually and so slowly that I didn’t notice, it disappeared from sight. But it still stunk, except it stunk for no good reason.

Okay, I’m scared! I think I’m more scared now than I was before. Those same weeds are there, but they look more like trees now.

There’s the first step. It’s a doozy! Not sure I want to climb yet. Just … gimme a sec to mentally prepare.

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In Loving Memory: Ode to The Wall

In 2005 I had something like an emotional breakdown. I was separated from my husband, and my life was falling apart. It got really bad. I was afraid of the thoughts in my head.

So while I was lying on the floor crying and deciding whether it was worth it to live, I suddenly got the idea to read the Bible. It was there under my bed (easy to spot since I was sprawled out all over the floor), so I flipped it open and found a scripture. I read it and I wasn’t convinced. But I wrote it on the wall anyway so I could keep reading it without having to hold open a rather heavy book while I was too depressed to even lift my head. I wrote it at the bottom of the wall so it was at eye level. I couldn’t see it when I stood up. It was like my little secret.

That’s how The Wall was born. I wrote lots of scriptures on it. Some I wrote in pen; I scrawled one verse on it with huge letters in green crayon. It helped me remember to live, and stuff like that. When my husband moved back in, I think he saw it as evidence that I was nuts. He never understood The Wall, but he’s been very patient about it. I tried to explain it once, but he doesn’t get it and that’s okay.

Today I painted over it with Kilz. Um, is that symbolic? Nah.

I’m grateful for The Wall and the words on it. There have been times since “the dark year” (thanks for that name, Melody) that I’ve remembered, and leaned my cheek on the words, and thanked God for getting me through it.

Even when the words are hidden under a coat or two of blue paint, they’ll still be there.

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