Dreams

God: Intellectual

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The seminar came about at the start of the year, when everyone tends to cast a vision for their life, dream dreams, create a bucket list, etc. The speaker referenced the brain’s left and right-sided processing. However, she clearly believed and purported that God only speaks to us through the right side of the brain because the left side is “intellectual” and therefore “fleshly thinking”, in other words the left side of the brain was only good for merely logical processing and not spiritual.

Ridiculous. Please humor me a moment while I fuss and fume, and proceed to correct this very bad teaching.

First, our whole person is created in God’s image, and there are not parts of us that are pleasing to Him while other parts are degraded. Psalm 139 is loaded with insight about the ways the God has created us and knows intimately the man or woman He has created us to be.

“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…”

Not only does He know what He has created, He is immensely pleased with who you are, and how you are wired. Why would God, as a King and Father, send His Son if He didn’t think you were worth His sacrifice?

I love Jeremy Riddle’s song, This is Amazing Grace. Give that a whistle sometime. https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Bethel-Music-Jeremy-Riddle/This-Is-Amazing-Grace

Anyway, I digress but this speaker suggested we should abandon logical thinking because only the creative thoughts were Spirit-led. Can you imagine?

Scripture shows us God is pretty good at conveying His thoughts to us, and putting plans in motion. He uses all manner of ways to communicate with us. You see a raspberry sunset and you cannot help but think, “Wow, God sure know how to use His crayons!” Okay, I’m kidding. But truthfully it’s difficult  to see a sunset and not have a sense there’s a higher being outside ourselves, one who is wildly creative Himself.

Second, we should ponder the nature of God Himself.

This is God Omnipotent, the God who knows all things. Translated, He’s really smart and He’s designed His people to use their noggin. Especially when understanding His plans for our lives, He fully expects us to take advantage of the amazing intellect He has given us just as He has. Do you suppose that God who has created all things did so without engaging His intellect? Doubt it.

For the unaware, logical processing that occurs on the left side of the brain produces some of the most artistic and beautiful creations ever created. Systems that run, your iPhone and your car, are absolute works of art. Of course they are based in science and technology but you don’t think Michaleangelo might have used mathematics when He sculpted The David or painted the Sistene Chapel? Google Golden Ratio and Michaleangelo or Fibonacci, and you tell me. When spaceships beautifully and exquisitely orbit planets, let’s broadly assume it takes a bit more than crayons or a paintbrush.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some brilliant men and women over the years. While I have skills and brains, and I can hold my own in a crowd, these are the folks in whose presence you are humbled. From them I have learned this: One of the most astounding thresholds to cross is when science ceases to be science, and becomes art. That is to say that when the most intelligent people cannot explain why something works but they’ve tapped into the repeatable patterns that reveal truth and prove hypotheses. It’s then they just have to stand back and honor the pattern, honor the proven theory. It gives a deeper meaning to truth as well. Repeatable code. Finding the art in science. Those are moment of pure beauty.

This year? Dream big. Use your noggin … agree with God that His creation of you is amazing, and fling open the windows of possibility! What will you do? Who will you become? I can’t wait to see!

Love you!

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The Words of Our Dreams

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I have a twin. Well, we might have been twins. We could have been twins for sure. But she’s always asking the difficult questions. Her favorite, “What would that look like?”

Erin humors me and basically spoils me rotten with affirmation and comforting words while I whine. But, truthfully, when I’m stuck she pulls out the big guns. “How do you see that working out?” she’ll ask. My friend forces me to put legs on my dreams. “Well, it doesn’t actually mean I’m moving to London. But I want this, Erin.” Or, “I guess I need to meet new people, then.”

In order to break out of a stuck place, we have to drag out the box of stripes and pin them on the zebra … to put our dreams into words. It’s scary, and yet beautiful. If ever we’ve been lost in a city or a heavily wooded area, we focus on where we want to be, compared to where we are now. Strategically, tenaciously we take unknown streets and footpaths, bridges and sprinting breathlessly until we find our way.

“What would that look like?”

Words give direction to ethereal ideas. They point to the student visa, or the flights back and forth. They strike a line of demarcation between a Bud Light and a Malbec. A Stilton and <shudder> Velveeta. Even as I suggest this, I can feel you repelling from me. All the disappointment from your last failure. It pulls you deep inside yourself. You go quiet and the moment of transparency is gone.

Another year passes. Maybe two.

I find you sifting through the grad school pamphlets again. Okay, no more pamphlets. But you’re scouring the school websites for the meaning to your life. You’re trying to justify grad school. You don’t justify a dream. You do it because you can taste the Malbec. But it does require that you engage, Sweet Pea.

Yet the potential for failure has never propelled any dream into motion. Most certainly it has snuffed out the smoldering wick of hope that you’ll one day Become.

Samantha your whole face lights up when you get lost in the meaning of words. Friend, your whole face takes on a glow when you talk about planning your next culinary creation. I believe in you. Why don’t you?

Ciao!

Copyright 2014 (c) Samantha J. Penhale All Rights Reserved
Descanso Gardens Tree

 

Buying the Field

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I’ve a journal in which I record dreams, visions, ideas. Sometimes people will share words or reflect the way my life has influenced them, and I’ll jot those things down and ponder them. I saw an entry that I wanted to share with you.

In July of 2010 I’d had a picture of concentric circles with my heart in the center. The circles around my heart represented things that I owned which were of value to me: my house with a big grassy yard, my Jeep because it reflected the sassiness of my personality; my cat whom I utterly adored; and other luxuries that I was able to afford at the time, like manicures and pedicures, et al. My life as I knew it then felt hollow. I was working insanely hard to maintain a house whose value was in the toilet because of the housing market crash.

After three incredibly long years of waiting for my house to sell, I rented it out, quit my job, and up-ended all my roots and headed for LA. I had a good job here in LA, and an apartment so it wasn’t a complete debacle. On the one hand I knew and understood the cost of my decision and yet, on the other hand, I don’t think I had a clue. How truly that reflects nearly every choice we make!

Through a convoluted twist of circumstances I lost the house through foreclosure. I sold my Jeep and leased a Mini Cooper. My cat died. And a radical cut in salary from Nebraska, plus a sharp increase in the cost of living in LA leaves me at a place where I can honestly say those concentric circles don’t exist anymore.

What does that really mean though?

I can only speak for myself but my journey was about faith, and letting my heart take on something bigger than myself. For most of my life I’ve struggled in my ability to dream. What do I want my life to be about? I can give you some spiritual sounding answers but I can feel God piercing that lack of sincerity in my heart until I begin to own an idea, and let it become my own.

Here’s what the journal entry said:

Concentric circles around my heart. Things I treasure form walls which block the presence of God in my life. I lean on them instead of Him. In order to hear God more fully I lean on the walls to see if there is a door. I step into the creative process and press the story out from within the circles nearest my heart. The Pearl of a great price. Selling everything that I have in order to gain Christ.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” — Matthew 13:44

So often we think of the man in that parable as Christ, and that we are the treasure. And indeed we are His treasure. But we enter into His same joy when we emulate his decision and consider Him to be our treasure. Our dream.

I would never joke about the price I’ve paid to pursue Christ. I would have moved to London, New York or Sydney but He led me here. A seasoned dreamer learns that when Christ is at the center of the dream no cost is too steep.

Dreamer, I encourage you to buy the field.

Ciao!

 

 

The Children of My Heart

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For the woman who wanted more children. The Dad who always wanted a little princess. For the unmarried woman who sees her wee ones in every child that passes.

As a write this I’m seated in a crowded restaurant and the couple next to me cuddles an adorable little girl dressed in white patterned tights and lime green corduroy dress that has delicate smocking across the front. The dress looks just like dresses I wore when I was a little girl. She’s getting ready to launch from her Daddy’s arms, flapping her wings, certain that she’s ready to fly. At the table next to them is a little boy who is trying out screaming tones for the first or second time …By jove, I think he’s got the hang of it.

This morning the Lord gave me a glimpse of the babies I’ve carried in my heart. So numerous they were! I watched as they turned somersaults and toddled around Heaven’s playground. When I asked the Lord about what I was seeing He said this …

Every time you agreed to carry something in your heart for Me, I gave birth to it in the realm of the Spirit. So many broken people have abandoned what I was birthing in their womb and while it does break My heart I have a place for these little ones.

Your heart.

Your life.

You have not known the fullness of what I’ve been doing but perhaps you’ve felt it?

While showing me these children He reminded me of all the times that I carried a dream or a prayer in my heart … a willingness to dream big dreams with a friend, or believe for healing of a friend’s illness … In Heaven’s economy we are owning another person’s pain, linking our strength with their fragile faith. It’s the heart of a parent manifesting. And Father never withholds, never ceases to reward a single glance of our eyes. Our heart expands and Father tucks another wee one under our wings.

When I mentioned that I wasn’t exactly clear on how the dots connect, He simply said, “My economy rocks My way.” And at that moment, I just saw Him as a man with His arms full of babies, rocking one with His foot and the woman in me cannot help but smile and do what I’m wired to do.

Ciao!

Dance … On Writers Block

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There is, hiding within, a song that needs to be sung, a shout that needs to come out, and tears that yearn to water the fallow ground.
Awake fettered soul, and release the characters who will sell out about the City. The one that has foundations.

In my slumber I remember the ones who know how the story goes.

– The yellow ball who finds a boy.

– The African sun that sets on twelve young boys and girls, now fully loved out of a lifetime of huffing and fully protected from guerrilla warfare.

– Two women, sworn friends for life until death swallows the one and her yet single friend takes guardianship of her now orphaned sons.

They are there at the edge of the City; one by one they slide down the ripple of the sinking sun. “My story friends!”, I cried. Out of reach I’ll never be able to love them into stories now.Their voices a silhouette as I shrink within myself.

It’s then that I hear the still small Voice beckoning to me.
“Don’t be dismayed, Little One, when the storms broil. Rather partner with the sparrow who knows not what the morrow brings.
The edifice you are building requires more of you each day.
On the ground you lay, willing its foundations to come forth.
You lean on it’s walls only to discover they are doors beckoning you beyond.
Have you forgotten how to entice your friends into their stories?
Take hold, Beloved.
Grasp for their history. Lean into their tale. Wind it around yourself like a veil and stay within until they come to fore.
Cause them to sing.
Your people will weep if you will weep.
They will dance in the moonlight if you will lead them.”

“Though your reason for living feels a distant tune sung by someone else, and you consider relinquishing your call..
Press in, Beloved.
Wrest the sleep from your eyes and pierce your own heart with their tale and soon you’ll know how they go.
Soon you’ll beat out the rhythm of their heartbeat and they’ll rattle to life.
You’ll whistle their wanderings and they’ll stand upon their emptied graves and cry “Sing it again!” and “Shout some more!”
And soon you’ll know how the stories go.
Dance, Beloved. Dance.”

Non-Negotiables and Gatoraide

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This last couple of months has been about transition and a great deal of change. Good changes! Exciting stuff transpiring over here in Aisle 3! In the event that you’ve been under a rock and have not heard I’ve finally rented my house and have relocated to Los Angeles. I’m back to maintenance-free apartment living and the glorious city.

Los Angeles and Southern California require a whole new grid work for thought process. It’s nothing like North Carolina or the Midwest or even Michigan where I grew up. And so a new season begins. Interesting fact: we will always find ourselves at the start of a season in one aspect of our lives, mid-season in another aspect and bringing something else in our life to a close. I don’t know why that is. I just find it to be universally true.

I’ve started more households than I have fingers to count on. I love filling out the forms that want the last five addresses. I have to keep a log. I’m starting to look like a fugitive. Being mid-season with things … no matter how I add it up, I am mid-career. I’m a senior analyst whether I asked for the title or not. Knowing how to gracefully end a season in our lives is just as important as knowing how to get into stride and stay there, how to endure. I recently brought a five year tenure with my last employer to a close. Ending well requires liberal doses of graciousness.

The metaphor of a marathon or long distance bike (bicycle) ride is refreshing when I apply it to the changes that I’ve been facing. I suppose the 100 yard dash is the most accurate with all the hurdles I’ve been jumping these last weeks and months. Whenever I had a long ride planned, 80 or 100 miles, I made a lot of decisions ahead of time. I knew when I would leave, and I was prepared for the blazing sun to make the sweat run in my eyes and nearly blind me with salt. I would squirt orange Gatoraide in my eyes for relief. I was ready for a rain shower in the afternoon that would wash away that same dried sweat on my face but it would blind me as the water would pelt my face. I knew that I would arrive back home with a wicked headache but I’d go out again and again. Once the decisions are made the disciplined athlete does not revisit the issues. Let.it.rain.

What areas of your life have non-negotiables? In what ways have you made up your mind, and you are sticking with your decision, no matter what it costs you?

I am reminded of a couple of Olympic athletes. You are waiting for me to mention Lance Armstrong, but I was thinking of Mary Decker. A ferociously  talented runner, but in the 1984 Olympics Decker collided with Zola Budd. She was carried off the field by her boyfriend. I cried. I’ll never forget it because I was in high school rehabilitating my knee after a orthopedic surgery at 15 years old. I was a lovesick ballet dancer. I knew that I’d never really make a future out of it, but certainly not after that surgery.

No matter the things that beset us, the rides where we’ve eaten dirt or the hurdles we’ve taco’d … or even the pointe shoes we’ll never don again … I’d like to do this season well. Reader, we’ve both got a bit of road behind us but there is plenty of road ahead. We have finally learned how to dream big dreams with our giant God, and we have much to become. We are no longer afraid of our own shadow nor walk in shame over our mistakes.

Let’s run this one in such a way that we might win.

Uncharted Territory

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While driving through New Mexico and Arizona we were wildly aware of the terrain. We would easily drive for hours and see no inhabited civilization. Nada. For hours. We would see ghost towns, and long-vacated structures in the vast expanses but nothing would have caused me to off-road and discover them.

As hundreds of miles of desert and rocky bluffs passed by, we were grateful for the freeway even when the road quality was lacking. I-40 often ran in parallel to the historic Route 66, which was built in the 1920’s. To the side of the highway we often saw two-track etched into the rock, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was some of the original road westward, first defined by by footfall and then wagon trains, finally by vehicles. Like an engraving it was a sure path if the sojourner could ignore all the questions and unknowns.

I think I held my breath from Albuquerque, NM to Victorville, CA, praying we wouldn’t have a flat tire or some other vehicular dismay. I can’t imagine the fortitude of the true pioneers who endured those jagged cliffs for months on end … based on a word from a distant land, or from a newspaper article. What if they had never left the colonies? What if they hadn’t believed that there was ‘gold in them thar hills’? What if the TransContinental Railroad had never been built? What if the Wright Brothers had lost their sense of curiosity? What if those pioneering women had not had the courage to become the wives of strangers, and create a nation?

As we drove through that space of two days I was keenly aware of how we are wired to be pioneers. We gain it from our ancestors no matter our country of origin. Someone, somewhere in our past travelled long, dusty roads to reach a place they called ‘home’. And they made it a home for us. They built up the land and invested themselves into making it a place of rest, a place of industry. They prayed as they tilled the ground. Our nation has a foundation of prayer and tremendous pioneered effort, always someone going further ‘west’ into a place that has never been discovered before. Not long ago, the dot.com industry had instant appeal and almost just as suddenly it collapsed. But look at online retail today! I recently reserved an apartment 1500 miles away, set up electricity, water, gas and internet for the apartment almost before I’d even seen it in person! Okay it wasn’t as slick as that but very close!

There are many challenges in life which cause us to say, “I’ve never been this way before.” Risks in business, next-steps in relationships, people testing our mettle, quietly sifting our character. Rise to the challenge. Be the pioneer! Step into that new dimension of who your Creator has designed you to be. Status quo has that stale achy feeling to it because you were never intended to stay in it’s space. In creative edginess, whatever that looks like for you, you will realize your connection with men of old, like Abraham who “went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, … for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

When we take on something that is bigger than we are, a dream that was planted in our hearts by God Himself, we step into something unique and great and powerful. And because it was His dream first we can trust that He’s more invested in it even than we are. And while we don’t always know the way, because it really is uncharted territory, we can trust that we know the Dreamer and He’ll see us through.