Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dreaming big and listening to God

Our family returned late last night from the Texas Homeschool Coalition State Convention. It was a time of refreshment and renewing our vision as a homeschooling family. I was inspired by each speaker to continue onward, never giving up on the vision God has given me and Todd to raise our children to be Godly people who serve the LORD with their whole hearts. There was a theme that seemed to run among all the talks I was able to attend: don't let my own fears and doubts or the negative influence or opinions of others cause my trust in the living God and His plan for me and my family to waver.

Todd and I have chosen to follow God and go against the mainstream for a very long time. We decided early on, when our oldest child was barely 3 years old, that we were going to commit ourselves to homeschooling our children. Many people, including some from church and some family members, expressed concern and doubts over this decision. Thankfully, I am married to a man who isn't easily influenced by others around him, and who tunes his heart to God and what He is leading US to do. We have homeschooled all these years, and though everything isn't perfect by any means, we feel God's blessing on our efforts. We have listened to God's prompting in our lives to allow Him to continue to bless us with children. When I was expecting our 4th child in 4.5 years, we received many negative comments from people around us. This has continued as God has blessed us with more and more children. We have struggled over the years as we have tried to discern HIS voice apart from all the many (mostly well-meaning) voices around us. It isn't (and has never been) easy, but we have walked this road together, and we see such fruit! We are expecting baby #9 on November 1, 2011. God has given us peace with Him and with each other as we trust Him in this area.

When we decided to move out to the country onto our 20-acre hobby ranch, Todd felt that God wanted us to be debt-free. We built a small, unconventional house in order to help us achieve this goal, and we have lived here nearly 5 years. Our home was originally going to be the garage of a much bigger house (which would have required us to acquire a large mortgage), so it lacks the closets, pantry and storage spaces of "normal" houses. We live very differently from pretty much everyone we know, and some people have expressed to us that they could never do what we're doing, but we feel that we are doing what God has called us to do. I'm really glad that I didn't squelch Todd's vision to do this, as at times I have wanted to do (let's just be "normal," get the mortgage, and build the "normal" house!!). I feel so blessed to be learning through this experience to be more creative in how I do things in order to adapt to our environment. I have also learned to let go of so many unimportant things, and release myself from unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. As an added perk, I am getting pretty good at ridding our lives of clutter! I do sometimes struggle with wanting some of the things other people's homes have in them, or the beauty of others' homes, but I am learning to bloom where I'm planted and to bring beauty, nobility, love, and LIFE into this very home so that it is the life within, not the physical home, that draws our children's hearts here and blesses all those who come through its doors.

The last talk we heard this weekend was by Todd Wilson of Family Man Ministries. He spoke about dreaming big, and allowing those around you to dream big as well. This seemed to sum it all up for me. What dreams has God planted in my heart, in Todd's heart, in the hearts of our children? Do I allow others to kill those dreams and rob me of the opportunities to see God work in mighty ways? Do I kill my husband's dreams or gently fan the flame? Do I encourage my children to allow God to speak dreams into their hearts and then follow Him and watch Him work in their lives? I am encouraged not only to continue to allow God to give me big dreams and follow Him unafraid, but also to especially fan the flame in my husband's heart and in the hearts of each of the dear ones with which He has entrusted me. Who am I to limit what God may call them to do? I do not want to be one of the discouraging or negative voices in the lives of those around me. Instead, I want to be one who supports others as they listen to God's unique plans for their lives. I can't wait to see what dreams God puts into the hearts of my children and how He will use them as they follow Him to pursue those dreams!

What are your dreams? Don't be afraid to follow God's unique plans for your life, the dreams He has laid on your heart. Likewise, choose to be a voice of encouragement in the lives of those around you as they listen to their dreams as well.