How to Hold A Dream That Hasn’t Happened Yet

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. 

Proverbs 13:12

If you have been a long-term reader of this blog, you may remember a 2019 post about the dream of my son. In that post, I shared the very real hope of motherhood though I was neither a wife nor a mother.

I wish I could tell you that in two years everything changed…that I found my husband and we did, indeed, have that son. But that hasn’t happened for me yet.

In my thirties, I felt all the ticks of my biological clock. I was the only aunt of my two-now-three neices and nephew. I thought of all my happy childhood memories with cousins and felt the burden to provide them. I didn’t have the resources to adopt; all I could give them were fur cousins. I resolved to be the best Auntie I could be as I waited–somewhat grumpily–to be a mother.

The weight of that motherhood burden was so heavy that I used to periodically check in with my neices and ask how they felt about not having cousins. At first, it bothered them. Over time, they became thankful and didn’t care; they were happy to have Auntie Becca all to themselves. I played with them. I listened to them. I encouraged their dreams. When they grew older, they protected that investment and wouldn’t let anyone call themselves an “aunt” in their lives but me.

There have been moments when I have felt nothing but bitterness and rage over my lost dreams. How could God give me such a vivid dream if it is never to come to pass? Was it even God at all? Does He even exist/care/see me?

I have been through more than my fair share of negative spirals over this. Nothing hurts quite like having a dream deferred. Then God broke through with a different perspective:

Stop seeing what you lack, and start seeing what you have.

Be loving to those I bring you who are unloved.

Be motherly to those who don’t have a good experience with their mother.

Be a good steward to what I have given you, and I will give you infinitely more.

God

Within me there is a tidal wave of love for my husband and children, but I hold back the tide for when they arrive. I have learned to hold the dream of them loosely in my heart, and I don’t live my days with my head on swivel trying to find them.

I let God into my everyday life.

Now I live choosing daily to focus on Him and what I do have not what I don’t. Sometimes that takes playing the same worship song over and over till I get the anthem that God loves me and that really is enough. Other days, it is joyous adventure led by His Hand. Either way, it is a better life than the life before focused on tragedy and lack.

Patience is not a virtue I wear well; I have to fight for it.

I have to fight to have it at all, really. Time itself is a reminder of patience. Having just 24 hours in a day when you need 28 makes you realize not everything happens as quickly as you may want it to. I can struggle and work hard and give myself barely a minute to eat of sleep while I try to get everything done, or I can accept my limitations, do my best, and trust God with the rest. Life always turns out better with option 2.

God’s waiting room is not a punishment; it is how He works. It took 15 years for David to go from the anointing to becoming King. It took 25 years for Abraham to go from the promise of fathering nations to hearing that first cry of Issac.

God guides us one step at a time expecting us to do the best we can, and what happens next hinges on the faithfulness to the step–the opportunity–he has for us right now.

Pastor Andrew Price, The Bridge Church, Mount Olive, NC

There are things I have to do right now to be a good steward of all my resources and a prepared home for the blessings I believe God has in my future. I take that responsibility seriously. I guard my investments of time, money, and talent diligently. Sometimes that means I have to say “no”–even to people counting on me to say “yes”.

Trusting God is not passive.

I’ve come to believe that my life is no longer about achieving a certain goal in my personal life or career. I think, more than anything, it is about living life with Christ, being a good steward of all He gives me, and finding joy in the journey.

I don’t want to just store up treasures for some future glory; I want to find treasure in my everyday life and enjoy it too.

The treasure looks like many different things:

  • It is that friend that has been encouraging me for years.
  • It is the money slipped into my hand at Christmas to protect my pride and honor my commitments.
  • It is the play put on with excellence at my local theater that filled my heart with pride and artistic comfort.
  • It is the moment spent enjoying a good meal with loved ones.
  • It is sitting unplugged from electronics and crocheting or knitting something new to wear.
  • It is meeting new people and hearing their stories.
  • It is watching the birds come to my window and eat the treats left for them.

All these moments and thousands more are what I look for and treasure. They are reminders of a loving God and assurance that I am headed in the right direction. God has so much more in store than I can plan for today.

I keep hope alive and don’t listen to naysayers.

There are a lot of reasons why a woman of my age should give up on the dream of motherhood. In terms of childbirth, I became geriatric twenty years ago and having a child is a health risk.

Yet, I dream on. If it is truly God’s will for me, He will open doors no man can shut, and I will have a baby in my arms to laugh and rejoice with. If it is not God’s will, I have nothing to lose from living a life of love and service now.

I choose to listen to hope dealers like Pastors Steven and Holly Furtick from Elevation Church, Pastor DJ Coles from The 4 Day Movement, and Pastor Andrew Price from The Bridge Church.

Hope is not gone, friends. As long as you are breathing, there is still room for your circumstances to change. Focus on what you have and what you can contribute to, and let God take care of the rest. Life is too short for anything less.


So how do you hold a dream?

You hold it loosely and trust the Author to fulfill it or rewrite it as necessary along your life’s journey.

Faith is the Substance!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

Hebrews 11:1-2, NIV
Poem read by the author, Rebecca Whitman

Faith is the substance

Of things hoped for, it is the

EVIDENCE

It is the root of the tree, the bird of the wing, it is the

WING

It takes flight with our dreams…

It is the fruit of the seed, it is the

SEED

It’s that tiny ember of spark, the burning coal of flame…the essence of life… it is that seed

Growing in the unseen; the truth propelling the future into reality… it is the breath

of life still waiting to be defined

DEFINED

By faith that understood how the heavens were formed by God’s command not the spontaneous decision of a single cell or a cosmic burst.

By faith that led men and women to worship an unseen King, walk with him when he was seen, live through joy and pain, fight and defend and die for…and with…this King.

KING

This King who walked among us not as a prince but as a man. The man who had every right to wear a crown and snub society but chose to hangout with outcasts and live with propriety.

This King who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, raised the dead to life, healed the sick, and escaped the sword…

This King whose perceived weakness became the power that launched a thousand ships, routed enemies, conquered kingdoms, ruled justly, and obtained the promise for all Heaven and Earth…

EARTH

The place where Heaven bends down with supernatural provision and we are two house finches at a glass feeder: stuffing our beaks with seed we didn’t earn, lifting our little red heads with pride and joy, and stretching our woodgrain wings to fly.

Christmas Time Blues, Doubts, And A Hard Lesson In Valuing Your Health

This Christmas is not setting itself up to be one of my best ones, and it’s not because of what I’m about to tell you. It’s because so far this Christmas season, I have bought all my presents but not wrapped a one. I never found an ugly Christmas sweater to wear to the party, so I was completely left out of the photos. I’ve missed almost every Christmas song on the radio, been too busy-or sick-to decorate, and lost out on all my Christmas parties (even the ones I planned myself). It’s warmer than Autumn, most days this December, it’s not feeling like Christmas at all.

Christmas starts to feel like Christmas to me when the first cup of cider is poured in November, and the craft bazaars start popping up everywhere for early shoppers. This is my favorite time of year, and it excites me almost as much as Christmas morning, because this is the time I get to support local artists and buy gifts for the ones that I love. When we gather and give thanks at Thanksgiving, it just preps my heart more for the appreciation and love to come. The bright lights, the displays, and the holiday specials all feel magical to me. Christmas music and movies on constant play while I’m swimming in hot chocolate and gift wrap is…well…divine. Without all this cheer, all I hear is, “I’ll have a blue…Christmas.”

A Serious Wake Up Call

In the middle of my bustling, busy life, I got a serious wake-up call. I walked out the door, ten days before Christmas, excited to finally be going to a Christmas party, and my leg gave way beneath me. I fall on the steps and cried out for help. Help comes running, and I got back up only to feel my legs crumble again inside the house. I rested a moment, and looked at the clock; I was missing the party.

The shades of blue deepened in my heart. Again I tried to get up and leave. This time I made it to my car and fell completely on the cold, hard ground. I could feel the cold but nothing more, and I got scared. This falling business could be serious. I pulled myself up with a cane and my car wheel, but couldn’t hold it. My right leg was complete jello. All the strength of my left side was not enough to pick up Humpty Dumpty again. This time my cry for help would require a team of EMS workers to lift me.

With the arms of EMS gripped around me, I thought of my students. So many of them have expressed a desire to be EMS someday. I held on to the man closest to me–a volunteer first responder, a neighbor whose name I still don’t know. I let him be my legs that would get me to the stretcher and the ambulance and the hospital while I text work and my students what to do while their teacher missed class.

All Too Familiar

Six months before this moment, I was doing the same thing only much more damaged and covered in blood. I was hit by a van and spun down the highway three times. My brand new car was totalled. My face was cut and permanently scarred. My back was severely shaken out of alignment. Yet, I survived.

I remember thinking, in those few seconds of white as I spun down the road, “God, is this going to be it? This can’t be it. I’ve got so much left to do in the world.”

Then I thought about the tractor-trailer. Where was it? It had been right behind me before I was hit. I closed my eyes and braced for a second impact. “Oh God, Oh Jesus, please help me!”

I knew I would most likely not survive that blow. As my car spun out, I thought about my loved ones and how it would hurt them. I thought of all the things I left unsaid. I thought about my job, my goals, and my dreams. I wasn’t ready for the end.

Then suddenly, the car stopped. I opened my car door and tried to get out as quickly as possible. If I was still in the road, I didn’t want to be hit again. But I was not in the road. Somehow, I had been spun around enough to put me facing oncoming traffic but resting safely on the side grass a few feet beside the road sign.

This was God’s answer: Not yet.

Temptation To Doubt God

Landing back in the hospital, my thoughts spiraled.

“Are you sure, God? If I have a purpose not yet done in this world, why bring me more pain and suffering? How can that further your cause?”

I questioned God, but I didn’t get angry. I didn’t understand the purpose in the pain, but I remembered that we were never promised a struggle-free life.

In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world. –John 16:33 NIV

Four hours later lying immobile in the hospital bed, a CT scan revealed that I had a herniated disc in my lumbar spine. I left with heavy drugs, possible surgery, and weeks of required time off work. When it was all said and done, my body reset itself, and I learned a hard lesson in paying attention to my health.

But in the moment…all I had was the hope that God really was in control.

I wrote this poem:

Now my Christmas may be less active and bright.

I may be seeing your lights from a distance tonight.

I will be sending you gifts of hope and cheer,

while you celebrate with all who are near.

As you open your gifts, there’s one gift I hope we can share:

It’s the gift of the Christ child on Calvary’s snare.

What meant to kill and steal him from the Earth,

Gave to us our second birth.

Merry Christmas!

Reliving Civil War History in Bentonville, NC

Near Newton Grove, NC, over 150 years ago, one of the largest battles of the Civil War took place. Acres of farmland were overtaken in gunfire and the home of the Harper family became a hospital for injured soldiers.

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The Harpers were not your stereotypical Southern plantation family. They cared for the wounded on both sides of the war with equal charity. Many of the wounded that died were even buried in their personal family graveyard.

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Why would a Southern slave-owning family show such compassion? The answer may be in the long history of their family line.
Generations of Harpers, before and after this particular family unit, were in the forefront of important historical events. There were Harpers in the Revolutionary War, Harpers on both sides of the Civil War, Harpers in industry and trade, Harpers in education, and Harpers in religion. One such famous Harper was a preacher set to do a revival in America when he went down with the R.M.S. Titanic. He went into the water preaching the gospel of Christ and did not give up till he finally froze to death. So I have to think there is something in the Harper line, some great Christian heritage, that taught them to be industrious, strong, and kind people.
The Harpers of the Harper house did own slaves, though, so they must have been bad people, right? Wrong. One of the biggest misunderstandings about slavery is that those who owned slaves were immediately bad because they were buying and controlling other people as property. It is equally assumed that all slave holders mistreated their slaves. What we are missing is the fact that slavery was a way of life back then. Slaves were necessary to do manual labor that machines had not yet been created for.  They were paid in room and board and, in places like the Harpers house, education. Where it would have been a cause for beating to read elsewhere, Harper slaves were taught to read. Instead of the shanties on other plantations, Harper slaves lived in their own modest cabins.

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Most importantly, Harper slaves felt loved and valued by their masters. In letters to the Harper family after the war, slaves praised the Harpers for their kind treatment and shared fond memories of their time there. Though our modern minds cannot fathom any humanity in owning slaves, there are many things about the past that we cannot comprehend without living it.
Today, tourists can visit the Harper House free of charge year-round. There are also many activities to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville every year on the anniversary of the battle. The most exciting part of these activities is the reenactments of life and cannon fire during that time. It is an opportunity to relive history that you don’t want to miss.

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For more information about the historical site and how you can go visit it, check out their website at:
http://www.nchistoricsites.org/bentonvi/