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I’m standing in middle of nowhere, looking out over flat, dry land.  I wonder if maybe I am in Mexico or Texas.  Everything is brown, dried up and withered with an occasional sagebrush here and there.  Behind me is a Spanish-style ranch, several square, stucco buildings with arched doorways and flat roofs. A fire is coming towards me across the high desert.  It’s an unusual fire though, advancing slow and steady with a low, low flame and no smoke.  Almost more like lava oozing forward than fire but it is most definitely fire that gradually devours the golden desert color, turning it into a flat black wasteland as far as the eye can see.

I turn to face the buildings and find that there are women and children nearby.  The adults see the fire and their faces reflect some sort of futile resignation.  They tell the children it’s time to go into the buildings but there is no urgency, no panic.  They seem to view the fire as an old and familiar foe, always present but never doing any damage and therefore not dangerous.  I attempt to help herd the children towards the buildings but there doesn’t seem to be much progress made by anyone.  No one speaks to me and I do not attempt conversation with them, I am an outsider.

The dream shifted and all of a sudden I am standing alone on top of one of the stucco buildings.  It is a typical flat roof with a short lip around the edge.  I can’t see the ground but the fire must be right at the base of the buildings because the intense heat is making everything shimmer although I do not feel hot.

I look out at the building across from me and watch the color and shape of the building rise in a heat-induced haze about five feet above the building and stay there, keeping the shape of the building in sharp yet translucent definition.  I am fascinated and know this is special so I keep watching.

After a period of time the lines of the building begin to blur and the stucco color begins to stream upwards.  The color changes from tan  to yellow and then is joined by orange and red so it looks like shimmering flames made of light reaching towards heaven.  It was breathtaking to watch.

I let go.

I had the sensation of holding on to a round, metal hand rail with both hands and choosing to let go but I was standing alone on the roof without anything to hold on to.

Immediately after choosing to let go I began to rise upwards with the colors.  I started rising as I was, in a standing position, but became aware that all of a sudden I was lying horizontally and still moving upwards.  It seemed strange to me but I quickly dismissed the thought because it was then I heard the singing.

It was the most beautiful music I have ever heard and I knew the voices singing with it were angels.  They were praising God and I opened my mouth and sang at the top of my lungs, joining in the song with the angels as I continued to rise upwards.  It was beyond words.  I felt awe, wonder and  joy and I was overwhelmed with peace.

Abruptly I noticed that there was something wrong with my voice, it sounded strange.  And then I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I just couldn’t get enough air.

I woke up and I was physically singing in my sleep!  My  voice was small and thin and I wasn’t getting enough air to breathe properly for singing – because I was wearing my CPAP mask.

I was so sad that I didn’t get to finish the song with the angels.  It was too glorious to describe and the melody and words did not stay with me but the peace did.  I went back to sleep knowing that I let go of something – and everything became better, beautiful and amazing.

This was the question of my small group leader yesterday morning.  Not specifically to me but to all of us – how do we pray?  Some ladies take Prayer Walks and talk to God while they’re walking.  Some ladies write their prayers down and call it Prayer Journaling.  Some ladies have lists of people they pray for and some ladies just talk to God all day long while they’re doing the dishes, folding the laundry and chasing their children all over the house.

Some ladies shared specific prayers like The Lord’s Prayer and The Tabernacle Prayer.  I know there’s also the Ripple Prayer, Arrow Prayers, Prayers you think, Praying the Word and several other prayer formats, most of them my church has taught from the pulpit or had classes on at one time or another and don’t get me wrong – sometimes good to have a format to follow just so you don’t sit there for three minutes thinking “Uh…I can’t think of anything to pray about so life must be OK and I’m done praying now”.

I didn’t actually share with the group yesterday about how I pray.  Throughout a normal week my prayers to God usually consist of conversations, me talking to Him about this or that, just whatever’s going on.  I know God already knows everything I tell Him but it helps me to speak out loud the things I generally bottle up inside.  But for the last six months or so  my basic prayer, the one I pray almost every day is “Save Me”.  I say it over and over again.  I think it over and over again.  “Save me, save me, save me…”.  When life just gets too overwhelming, too crazy and my brain looses it’s ability to think coherently all I can do to pray is say “Save me”.

And He does.

Not all at once, not like in fairy tales or movies where the hero comes swooping down and rescues the princess in one courageous battle and then they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

The saving comes slowly and softly so I have time to adjust to each little step of the change that is Being Saved.  My thoughts begin to change.  My heart begins to soften.  My soul starts to thaw.  The chains that bind me grow lighter and are closer to becoming breakable.  My goals and dreams, once nothing more than ashes and dust, show teeny, tiny signs of life returning to the pots I have kept them in at the back of the closet in the furthest recesses of my heart.  With a little water and a lot of faith they will grow into a beautiful plant and bloom once more.  It will just take time, lots of time.  And I guess that’s fair, it’s taken almost 40 years to get to this craziness I call “Normal Life” so why shouldn’t it take a few years to be saved from it?  To find a new “Normal”?

I’m still working on putting together a women’s retreat.  That’s a goal I think I can accomplish within this next year.  I’m also working on making prints of my paintings to sell them – I need to do some more research as far as cost to get started.  My art makes me happy when I look at it and other people say it makes them happy too so maybe there will be a market for it, who knows?  And I want to have my own band although finding the right people and equipment might take a few years to really get it off the ground.  But these are all things I want to do as a part of defining who I am separate from anybody else.  These are things that make me happy when I do them and so I will pursue them – and pray about them, asking for the favor of God and man to be successful in them.

Please support the people around you who are trying to accomplish their dreams – and say a prayer yourself.  Pray that they would receive what they need and that your needs will be met as well.  God hears you and He loves you, every little thing is gonna be all right.

In their most recent effort to be more friendly and interactive Facebook is constantly asking me “How do you feel?”  Seriously?  A computer program wants to know how I feel?  Hey Devs, this isn’t the Matrix…  Does that mean I’m “unplugged” and living in the real world while all the people who are sucked into thinking that Facebook actually cares about how their feeling are still trapped in the system?  Lol.

But on a more serious note, to have emotions, to have stirrings… maybe even all the way up to “feelings” (to summarize Johnny Depp in the last Pirates movie) is something that I built a wall against a long time ago.  I used to have dreams and passions.  I wanted to:

Be the Worship Leader at church
Have a non-profit business and host regular retreats for women who need to relax and recharge
Become a music teacher
Start a home for crisis pregnancies and provide education in both life and job skills
Own my own business
Become a Certified Counselor and help people with their problems
Build myself a house on the Oregon Coast
Go to Hawaii
Be a professional event coordinator/party planner
Have my own band
Have a free soup kitchen for anybody – not just the homeless
Become an architect
Build a community of like-minded people and live off the grid in the middle of nowhere

And I’m sure there were more but those are the ones I can think of right now.

None of these things have happened and over the years my dreams have slowly died, withered, shriveled, crumbled, faded and blown away.  It was kind of hard to even remember most of these to write them down, wow.

The Bible says that “without a vision the people will perish”.  What do you do when you lose your passion for reaching the stars?  When you realize that you can’t help anybody because you’re simply existing and don’t have anything extra to give anymore.  You pack up your emotions, your feelings, dreams and desires into little, tiny boxes and hide them someplace no one will ever think to look.  And then you build a wall around your boxes and plant a thorny bush at the base of the walls.  Your boxes are safe there, nobody can touch them or hurt them.  After a while you forget where you put them and they become safe from you too.

How do I find my missing boxes of emotion?  How do I feel again?  How do I start dreaming once more?  God help me but some days I feel like I’m a Terminator – living flesh on the outside but nothing human on the inside, just a bunch of gadgets and gizmos that keep everything running.

This is depressing – I meant to write something happy today!  All right, here’s the happy part – I’m going to pick something on the list and do it!  Unfortunately Hawaii is not an option right now  😦   However, I think I can pull off a retreat for a dozen ladies and then if everything goes well maybe form a non-profit to continue it.  There’s several rental houses (with hot tubs!) in the mountains not far from here that would hold 12 – 14 ladies and I think the cost would be about $150 per lady for 2 nights and 3 days (that’s lodging, food, supplies, everything).  Is that unreasonable?  Oooohhh… I’m getting excited now, planning things makes me happy!  Now to find a dozen women who want to get away for a weekend with no husbands, no kids, just God and Girlfriends…  Wish me luck!