Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

I dreamed a dream…

… and in this dream  I found myself in a somewhat artsy semi-urban area of a nameless town.  It wasn’t exactly a big city, but neither was it a small town.  The street and its shops and business were bustling with life.   Not crowded or busy like New York or Chicago or LA, but vibrant and alive with fairly steady traffic and spots of people here and there.

Across the street was a business.  It was a tearoom.  Outside it seemed quaint, inviting.  Inside it was spacious and relaxing.  The walls were stone or brick with wood beams showing.  This building had lived another life at one time.  Tables for two, three or four lined the outside rim of the space and some dotted the center space.  It wasn’t quite Victorian.  It wasn’t quite urban.  It was an eclectic mix of the two.  Tables had different lengths of table cloths in different materials and some went without completely.  Tea sets and service items were mis-matched and ranged from modern white with metal handles to exquisite china.  Teas and tea wares for sale dotted shelves and racks along with unique hand-made goods from across the world.

The tea shop was open Tuesday through Saturday, serving breakfast, lunch and tea.  The foods served were sometimes unique, always made with the best whole grain and fresh ingredients, low in sugar and yet delicious.  Nothing was advertised as “healthy” or “low carb” or anything like that, it was the quality that drew return customers and those who knew appreciated it.  Those with special dietary needs who wanted to come for tea always knew they would be cared for… but no big fuss was made… that’s just how the place worked.

The place featured the work of local artists – with photos, paintings and prints on the walls (and sometimes for sale) and even sculpture pieces made their way into the shop from time to time.  Special tea events were often accompanied with live music by local musicians and every now and again an artist would hold a small concert or showing and tea reception there.

So in addition to regular hours and menus there were sometimes special events.  Some tea related such as Mother’s Day teas and Daddy-date teas and mystery teas.  But as often as not they had nothing to do with tea.  Such as evenings for artist showings, live music and even an occasional poetry reading.  A few times they even maneuvered enough space for some physical theatre and drama.  There were two different small groups that used the shop on different evenings to hold their artists’ group Bible study meetings.  I even noticed a sign that would be put out on Sunday mornings that said, “Closed for business, open for worship.”  I did not inquire about this.

There was a young woman in the shop.  She was either an owner or a manager, but based on the sparkle in her eyes you could tell that the overall vision for this place had been hers.  She was in her mid to late thirties, or maybe her mid-forties, it was difficult to tell.  In some ways she stayed as a background character in her own shop, there were others, more outgoing others, who did much of the serving and conversing.  But she loved to serve as well and make sure that folks were being treated well and she would even seek out people from time to time and strike up interesting conversations… or was it that they sought her?  Perhaps they had picked up something from her in a previous conversation and so came to her when they had various questions…

There were others there, of course.  Others who served.  Perhaps even a co-owner or close associate who shared in the dream and the business.  Couldn’t quite make out whether that person was male or female or the exact relationship between the two.  But this friend, this partner, was a good counter-balance to the young woman. Similar vision and goals for the shop, yet they rounded out each other’s skill set well.

It wasn’t a Fortune 500 company by any means.  Nor wildly successful as some would define it.  They had their struggles, and getting to this point was something they had sometimes wondered about, but overall things were well.  Most importantly, people were served well and the community was invested in.  The shop had become an important part of the fabric of that community.

Close to the shop was an empty lot.  Or at least it used to be an empty lot.  If a building had been there at one time, it had been abandoned or run down or condemned and torn down… and the lot had sat as an eyesore.  Whether it was purchased when the shop was or at a later time, it was now owned by the same hands.  And now the once trashed ground held a vibrant community garden.  The community participated and the community benefited.  In fact, the tea shop itself featured a portion of its fresh bounty.  Though the idea for the garden had been a part of the vision of the young woman, it was the greener thumb of the other which brought it to fruition.  And it truly blossomed.

And then I awoke.

And it was a good dream.

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I had another strange dream last night.  Including kittens, accidents, trying to call 911 and getting random people across the world and other weird things.

But what sticks out is my response when someone asked me (during a rather tame part of the dream) where and how I pictured myself – in the future, living, doing, etc… My response was that I picture myself married, in a house -actually mentioned a multi-level house where the kitchen and living/family room are on a main level and then off to one end there are bedrooms – both upstairs and down – including a prophet room and my office/studio – and possibly a full basement, too… oh, and a big nice kitchen to cook and serve in -with a pot rack!… and my job? Taking care of our children and doing some mime and creative arts teaching/training on the side. Oh, and hosting tea parties.

And those are things which I have sometimes envisioned.  But there are other things, too, some of which have been mentioned in previous posts.  Like I could see myself single and in the city living above a mime/dance studio (or tea shop) that I work at.  Or in a little stone cottage along a rocky coast somewhere…

Thing is, I have a very active imagination.  And so it’s quite easy for me to be able to picture myself in any number of places and situations.  Easy.  Which sometimes leads me to wonder where it is that I should actually be…

The other week some new ideas and visions came to mind.  And in a way I can picture myself there and doing that, but it’s nothing like what I have thought before. So I pondered what it could mean…

Then earlier this week I was speaking to a friend about a new direction and vision which God has given them.  And I’ve since started to pray for that family – in more detail than I thought I could – regarding this new direction.  It occurred to me during my prayers this morning that I can pray specifically because God’s vision for them is actually related (similar, and yet different) than the vision I had recently been seeing myself!  Which got me to thinking…

I’m an artist.  Artists tend to be visionaries and God has often worked through artists to birth visions.  To plow, sow, water, nourish… I’ve seen it in my own life time and time again how ideas and visions I have (and share or try to bring about) tend to happen further down the road, after I’ve passed on from there or even in someone else’s life.

So maybe that is my role and my visions and ideas and goals and dreams are typically intended for others.  To prepare the soil, to sow the seed, to be able to pray specifically and encourage.

And that’s cool!  I can handle that.

But in thinking all this (which, of course, didn’t take quite as long as trying to write it out and explain it), a verse came to mind.  As a prayer.  Exodus 1:21.

And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

The midwives were faithful in their job helping to birth new life.  And so God gave them new little lives of their own.  So a desire and a prayer surfaced from my heart to my lips this morning. “Lord, even as I am faithful, and seek to be faithful in this role you’ve given me, of plowing, sowing, planting – birthing Your visions here for others – grant me a vision of my own.”

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Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.

Genesis 37:20

So the brothers said.

But Joseph’s dreams were from God.

And God had bigger plans.

I fear dream-killers way too often…

  • other people ridiculing or squashing my dream
  • other people causing me harm or simply holding me back
  • my health not allowing my dreams to come true
  • worries and fears and failures…

And there are things that can distracts us from our dreams or prevent them from happening in the way we think they should.

And it is really our worries and fears over those things that are the biggest distraction.

But the only true Dream-Killer is not being obedient to the One who gave the dream in the first place.

In all things.

Even when it’s hard or doesn’t make sense or seems to lead us away from our dream…

… even as far as Egypt… as a slave… in a jail cell…

Because the dreams were never about us to begin with.

They are about what the Dream-Giver wants to accomplish.

So do not fear.  Do not worry.

Simply trust and obey the Dream-Giver.

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Dreams and Words

So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Genesis 37:8

His dreams AND his words.

Joseph’s dreams were not his  to control. In fact, his dreams were a gift from God.

But his words he could control.

Some portray Joseph as being arrogant – being spoiled, knowing he was the favorite and eating it up. Then they say his trials in Egypt were meant to humble him.

Some portray Joseph as already humble, albeit naive – not really seeing his brothers’ hatred for him or even imagining why they would hate him.  They see his trials in Egypt more as building perseverance, obedience and trust in God.

Based on the scriptures, either scenario could work.  So we don’t know for sure.

What we can know for sure is that while his dreams were not his to control, his words were.

Oh, Lord, even should the dreams you give me cause others to look on me with disfavor, may my words never add fuel to the fire.

In fact, may ALL my words be carefully spoken.

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I see you You here, I feel Your hand.
Vast and mysterious is Your plan.
If all things start and end with You,
then I can beleive that dreams do come true.

That’s a line out of one of the songs from Sight & Sound’s production of Joseph.  I saw it last Tuesday and I haven’t been able to shake it out of my head yet.  Not that I mind, because I don’t.  I believe it was their best production ever (on so many levels) and for me even tops the Broadway version of Joseph (which I never thought would happen)!  I won’t go into detail here about the musical itself, but I would highly recommend you see it if you get the chance.

But seeing Joseph has got me thinking again.  Or perhaps “dreaming” would be a better word.  Or is it that I’m thinking about dreaming?

If you’ve followed my blogs since this spring, or even before, you’ll note that I have many dreams and I have recently wrestled with following God’s call and being on the right path.  And in many ways I still do.  Not the “where” so much as the “hows” these days.  God has given me dreams and visions and sometimes I’m not sure what to do with them all…

I’m not the first one to be given dreams and visions.  The Bible is full of people who were given dreams and visions – and hopes and promises.  And I’ve been thinking about them a great deal recently.  Specifically how most of them took years to be fulfilled.  In fact, I haven’t been able to think of any that came true instantly…  but I do know several instances in which the dreamer never did get to see the fulfillment of the dream.

Like David.  Now his wasn’t a literal dream like Joseph or Daniel had.  His was a vision.  Born out of a love for God and desire to worship Him.  He had a vision of building a temple for the worship of the God who called him, anointed him, made him king, saved him, strengthened him, forgave him and so on.  And God said that it was good that he had this desire, this vision, this dream.  But that he was not the one to see it through.  David had a vision of a temple that he would never see.  His son built it.  And David, for his part, imparted the dream and helped to make preparations.

So, as I’ve noted before, sometimes the dream or vision is given not for us to fulfill, but to make paths or preparations to that it is fulfilled in the future.

Then there’s Joseph.  Joseph was about 17 when he had dreams involving his brothers bowing down to him.  But he was probably 37 or older until that dream was fulfilled.  And for many years it probably seemed he was getting further from the fulfillment of that dream than closer to it.  His brothers sold him into slavery.  No one bows down to a slave.  Then on top of that, he was thrown into prison.  Instead of getting higher and higher into a position where people would bow to him, he was getting lower and lower.  The scripture says he was 30 when Pharaoh made him second over Egypt.  So that’s some 13 years of the dream seemingly going in the wrong direction.  Clouded, distant and with too many obstacles…. but eventually, some 20 or so years later, his brothers were indeed bowing down to him.

So sometimes the dream is a long time in coming and can seem impossible due to the way that things are currently happening.

And then there’s Nehemiah.  His also was more of a God-given vision than a literal dream.  He heard the report that though the temple had been rebuilt, Jerusalem still lay in ruins and unprotected with a broken down wall.  So with God’s guidance, favor and protection, Nehemiah was granted permission (and supplies) from the king to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.  Nehemiah didn’t reveal all his plans at once and we can see from the scriptures that he prayed and planned as much as he acted.  We read his prayers, his thoughts, the opposition that he faced and about the completion of the walls and even other rebuilding aspects of Jerusalem.

So sometimes the fulfillment of the dream comes after prayer and planning and much hard work.

I have dreams and visions.  Sometimes seemingly grand dreams and visions.  It is highly likely that some will never be fulfilled in my lifetime or at my hand.  But the dream given to me will be passed along or somehow inspire others like a seed planted only to blossom later.  And I’m sure that some of my visions and dreams are going to require prayer and planning and hard work and perseverance in the face of opposition.  And I am in great need of having a little Nehemiah-character in my life!

But at the moment I feel more like Joseph.  My head swirling with these dreams that seem far off, remote and completely incompatible with my current surroundings and circumstances.  It seems every time I try to step forward with these dreams and visions, I am stopped short or cut down by health issues or other problems (as if my own tendency towards being distracted wasn’t enough)… Fatigue, headaches, dizziness, pain, stiffness and frequent illness and injury are not conducive to either teaching or performing mime!  So what’s a girl to do with the dream?

Because sometimes the dream is meant to be fulfilled in our lifetime and at our hand and sometimes the obstacles are more like Joseph’s (preventing the  dream for a time) rather than Nehemiah’s (to be fought through and overcome in a shorter period).

So I look to Joseph again.

He didn’t get to be second in Egypt by studying hard and working his way to the top one rung at a time.  He got there by being faithful and obedient to God.  Being a good steward of whatever he was given at the time.  When he was sold into slavery he worked hard and was a good steward of what he was given so that he ended up running the entire household!  When he was put into prison, his character and good stewardship allowed him to be put into a position of helping to run the prison!   The long and short of it?  It was Joseph’s character, his faithfulness to God and good stewardship of even the small things that put him in the position for God to use him and raise him up.

I need to be faithful to God.  I need to be a good steward of what God has placed in my hands – even if it’s not what I expected at this time.  And if you look closely, David and Nehemiah were actually being faithful and good stewards, too.  So whether these dreams are meant for someone else, to come true a long time from now or to be hard-won in a shorter time frame, it is my faithfulness and obedience to God and my stewardship to what I have been given which is what matters now and in the day to day.

Oh, God, give me a heart like David and character like Nehemiah and Joseph.

Or, to further quote from that song from Joseph,

Please make me wise, so that I might know
the will of my Lord from here below.
I see you You here, I feel Your hand.
Vast and mysterious is Your plan.
If all things start and end with You,
then I can beleive that dreams do come true.

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The two chapters I read yesterday in Rory Noland’s Heart of the Artist were not only great chapters, but in many ways they spoke to where I am, reiterated what I’ve been learning and brought back to mind various scriptures which God has been pointing out to me lately.  So I thought I’d ponder them a little more…

The artist who was given one talent was waiting by the baggage claim. “Master,” he sheepishly started, “I didn’t want you to get mad at me. I’m pretty sensitive, you know, and I don’t handle rejection very well, and it’s so hard being an artist in this cold, cruel world.  I wasn’t really good enough to make it big-time, because you only gave me one talent, so I didn’t do anything with my talent.  I hid it. Here, you can have it all back.” The artist opened his hand and looked straight down at his shoes. The talent was as new and undeveloped as the day he got it.

The old man was silent. Then he responded in a soft voice, “My dear friend, you have squandered a fortune. I gave you something that was meant to be used. The issue was not how much I gave but what you did with what you had.”

If you did not recognize it, this is a retelling of Jesus’ parable of the talents as found in Matthew 25.  Noland’s creative approach caught my attention.  I mean, I know the parable.  I know it well.  But sometimes when something is so familiar, we overlook it or take it for granted until deeper  truths are revealed by a fresh perspective.

Noland’s retelling was a fresh perspective for me.  I think the first thing that really hit home was the simple, sad statement of “The talent was as new and undeveloped as the day he got it.”  He had done nothing.  Out of fear.  Out of insignificance.  In either case, the gift was squandered.

The second thing that I took notice of was the reply of the “master.”

The issue was not how much I gave but what you did with what you had.

I have several talents.  None of them outstanding or superior or in any way fit to make me a super star.  And while a few of them could be developed much more than they are, mostly my design is such that I have a smattering of gifts which are broad but not deep.  Which has caused me (I sheepishly admit) to disparage of what I have been given and to look with jealousy or envy on others more than once.  I see others who are far more talented, far more dedicated, (far more healthy), far more successful… and though I generally rejoice in the success of my friends and others in my fields, sometimes… sometimes it’s hard.

But it’s not about me.

Or comparisons.

What matters is the stewardship – my faithfulness – with what I’ve been given.

Noland gives good advice on dealing with jealousy and envy: confess it as sin, appreciate your God-given talent and give credit where credit is due… bringing it all back to faithfulness and stewardship.  And in the process of describing all that as well as in the following chapter on handling emotions, he mentions Bible characters, stories and passages which I’ve previously connected with or from which God has recently revealed truths in my life.

Like Peter wanting to know “what about him?” referring to John who was behind them as Jesus was giving an assignment (“feed my sheep”) to Peter.  Jesus’ response? “What is that to you? You follow me.”


Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” seen in conjunction with James 4 “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”


He re-tells the parable of the workers from Matthew 20 using artists and arts ministry, bringing home the point with verse 15, “Or are you envious because I am generous?”  God in his sovereignty decides who gets which skills and talents and we in worship need to submit our attitudes to God’s sovereignty and be content (and faithful) with what we’ve been given rather than questioning the “fairness” of it all.

So he points to David who, though it was a “good thing to want” was told by God not to build a temple.  David’s son would do it.  He had a heart of worship and so desired to see a temple built and used for the worship and glory of God.  But he was told ‘no.’  He wouldn’t even get to see it.  But he didn’t sulk or complain.  Instead, he accepted God’s word and helped his son in preparations.

Hmm… wasn’t that a passage that God caught my attention with several weeks back?


Even Jonathan and David.  If anyone had a good “excuse” to be jealous or envious it was Jonathan, the king’s son, one who could have inherited his father’s throne… except it had been given to David.  But Jonathan accepted that and became a dear, dear friend to David.


Remember Cain and Abel?  Abel was faithful and obedient in his offering and Cain was not.  But “the Bible doesn’t say that God was made at Cain” Noland points out – in fact, he was given a second chance and God laid it out for him, “If you do well, surely you will be accepted. And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”


Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  And often as artists we are not able to be doing exactly what we want in the way we want or as much as we want.  For a myriad of reasons.  Sometimes it’s that something stands in our way (lack of skill, lack of discipline, lack of opportunity, persons or groups who will not allow or don’t want our art, etc) and sometimes it’s God standing in the way telling us to wait.  The Bible tells about a lot of people who had to wait – Noah (to get off the ark), Israel (to get into the Promised Land), Abraham & Sarah (to have a baby), Job (to hear from God) and so on!  And often we don’t understand it.  What’s the point in waiting?

Perhaps obedience.



Because it’s really not about me. It’s not about my great abilities, or lack thereof.  It’s not about what God gave someone else and didn’t give me.  It’s not about being unfulfilled or disappointed or being put on hold.

It’s about stewardship, faithfulness and obedience to God… with what he’s given… in what he’s commanded…

Because ultimately, God is sovereign.  And generous.  And gracious.  And good.  And created us and knows us and redeems us and calls us.  And we can be content in that.

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Because this was one of the most profound dreams that I have ever had (and it has stuck vividly with me over the past 8 years) and because I actually reference it often, I thought I would write it out here.  (The bulk of this was taken from a MySpace blog that I wrote in 2005, though I have filled in the rest of the dream somewhat.)

In the spring of 2002, I had a dream I will never forget. It was a wondrous dream, stemming out of books I’d been reading (‘Great Divorce’ by CS Lewis and ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ by John Bunyon) and an intense passion for holiness and purity and serving God that stemmed out of my internship with AIM the fall before, the New Testament class I was taking with Dr. Fairchild and even recent conversations I’d been having with friends.

And in the dream I came to a great and wide river. It was a turbulent river and on the other side was God’s country (as best as I can define what I understood in my dream). I was not alone, there were others who stood beside me.  And though it wasn’t in the dream (or I simply don’t remember it), we had all been on this journey together.  And when we had at last come to the border of God’s country, there was this river. And I knew we had to cross it. But the river was a river of fire. Everyone hesitated. But something drew me on. I knew I had to trust God that it was okay for me to cross. So I went right in.

And I remember that the river burned, the pain was real and yet somewhat distant as though a memory after the fact. It hurt, but it did not kill. I was not sure how long I was in the river, but I came to the other side. And when I did I was surprised to see that the heavy backpack which I had carried upon my back was now empty. All the weight had burned away. I felt light and clean and pure…
In fact, I woke still feeling light and clean and pure.  And that feeling lasted almost all day long.  I have had nightmares which I can’t seem to shake for  hours or days.  But this – this was wonderful and I would not have wanted to “shake it” even had I been able to….

It was actually a two part dream.  The second part was rather weird (and perhaps somewhat heretical) and involved God’s country having (or being) a cafe with high tables and in the center of the tables were miniature Hershey bars.  And they had to be small because even just a little taste was so pure and so real chocolate that you could hardly stand it.  It was marvelous! And God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit (in body – hence a bit of tritheism there) were serving us in this cafe.  And I, like Peter, didn’t feel that was right.  I should be the one serving, I kept thinking… and so that second part of my dream was bizarre and it has had its own meanings and implications in my life.

But the river of fire has stuck with me.  Though more faded than I’d like, the memory of it is almost still tangible.  As though even now I can somehow remember the feel of the burning and of feeling so clean and pure.  And this dream has resurfaced over the years in a myriad of ways.  And I suspect God will continue to bring it to mind as He continues to work in my life…

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I think often things come upon us and when we get through them we look back and see how God used that to work out something in our lives that needed worked out… Though there are times, and perhaps more frequent for those who are contemplative by nature or highly aware of their own spiritual journey, when we can see what God is working in us in the midst of it.  But have you ever known ahead of time what was coming up?

I haven’t even hit the curve yet, where the road bends back around that huge precipice which blocks my sight.  I’m not there yet.  I can’t even really see it.  But I know it’s coming.  I know the road will be rough and the terrain unfamiliar and the vegetation won’t agree with my stomach and the flowers will give off a smell that is almost too much for me.  I will meet strange creatures which I will fear but who are really only trying to befriend me…  Yes, somehow I know the road ahead.  And though I continue forward, I do so almost with a fear and trepidation.

Three things have begun to be woven into my life.  Or, rather, there are three strands which have now taken on a distinctive color and have captured my eye and are coming closer and closer together on the tapestry.  (And yes, I switched metaphors – I do that frequently.)  First of all, over the past couple of months, and perhaps through a particular friendship, I have become more and more aware of my OCD tendencies and how they affect little parts of my life.  I had already become aware in grad school that when I get stressed, I clean and organize more – as if trying to control the portions of my life that are left to my control!  But in recent months more little aspects of the OCD have been seen (and understood) more plainly.  Numbers, organization, order, lack of spontaneity, lists, patterns, social issues and control.

Control has also come up a great deal in the book I’m reading.  Invitation to a Journey frequently mentions how even when we have a relationship with God we try to control it and grow on our terms.  Over and over again – or perhaps I simply pick it out because I need to – he talks of relinquishing control fully to God.  In every aspect.  And to be honest, he mentions many areas in which I had never thought of control as being controlled or controlling.

And then there’s mime.  Mime.  O how I love mime!  I love the beauty of body and space and movement and expression and creating stories without saying a word.  I love the silence and depth.  I love the technique and teaching and creating and performing pieces.  I love mime!  But I hate the box.  I hate statues.  I hate anything that has to do with doing mime “on the street” and I really hate improv.  Now it is true that I enjoy mime improv more than speaking improv. And it is also true that I have already come a ways in growth with improv – in fact, I taught a mime improv class at the National Creative Arts Festival back in 2006.  But that’s just it.  I taught.  And to teach you have to have a plan.

I like plans.  I dislike improv.

I have come to realize more fully over the past few weeks (but it’s been gradually culminating for months) that the reason I hate telling random people that I am a mime is that I fear they will ask me to demonstrate, or to come and “mime” at their party or for a street event.  And the reason I hate this is because I don’t know what to do.  Not that I don’t know technique.  But I don’t know how to let my mind come up with it spur of the moment.  I simply don’t know how to play.  And it’s even worse when others are around.  For then I over analyze and I fear they will lead me down a path I don’t want to go on. (I was the same way in  acting class, always fearing during improv that someone would give me a title or position or past that I didn’t want.)  And, really, what’s at the root of all this?


There it is again.  And so I clearly sense that God is preparing to work in me on this issue.  And to work hard at that.  And I sense that mime and learning how to play and improv is actually going to be a means to and/or a way to show how God is working in my life.  And is it ever going to be difficult and painful!  I am actually quite scared.

But like that dream I had, where I stood upon the banks of the river of fire, knowing full well I must cross, I will not give the fear a foothold.  I will dive into that river of fire.  For though I may feel the burning of my skin, I know it will not be the death of me.  I will allow the river of fire to burn through me and purge me of this area so that I may come out the other side, pure and clean and light, no longer with that burden on my back…

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