Big dreams and Bold Prayers

“God is not offended by your big dreams or your bold prayers. These give God the opportunity to prove His power and His love.” Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker.

Do you have BIG dreams? Do you have BOLD prayers? Do you ever turn the desires of your heart into prayers? Do you wonder if God will ever answer those prayers? I have had a dream of living in a waterfront home for as long as I can remember. I want to have a beautiful pool in the backyard where I can sit and have my morning coffee and devotional time, entertain family and friends, and cool off on a hot summer’s day. I dream of sitting on the deck at sunset and watching the brilliant colors descend upon the lake, taking the kids and grandkids out on the boat, inviting the youth group over for cookouts and hosting family gatherings that create memories of a lifetime. Not a day goes by that I do not think about this dream, this desire of my heart.

Yesterday was Fourth of July, and we had the privilege of celebrating our nation’s birthday for the third year in a row at our good friends’ beautiful waterfront home on Lake Palestine in the piney woods of East Texas. Chris and I sat on the dock enjoying a rather hot evening, watching our fourteen-year-old daughter, Carol Ann, take a jet ski ride with friends. “Ahhhhhhh, this is the life”, I whispered to myself. I turned around to glance up at our friend’s magnificent home brimming with family and friends, “oldies but goodies” tunes on the outdoor stereo, and lots of laughter and fun. I wondered if we could have a home where our large extended family and church family could gather and enjoy fellowship, food and fun.

After sixteen years as a stay at home mom raising our four children and married to a pastor, I finally launched my own direct sales business. The journey into entrepreneurship has been slow and steady, and an incredible experience. Last year I was able to pursue another goal that I started eight years ago. I finished my book, Toes in the Sand, My Journey from Domestic Engineer to Entrepreneur. And now the Lord is opening doors for me to speak to women and host my first women’s retreat this September.. Three of my four children are grown and not living at home anymore. My oldest daughter Emily and her husband Brandon are expecting their first baby any day now. Our family is growing. Life is exciting and fun. Carol Ann is entering high school this fall. We have four more years with a child at home. There is truly never a dull moment. But I wonder, what’s next, Lord? What do You have in store for us in the next chapter of our lives?

As Carol Ann and her friends pulled the jet ski back to the dock and ran up to the house to eat some barbeque, Chris and I sat there savoring the sparkling water all around us. I glanced at the jet ski, parked quietly at the dock, and smiled at Chris with that adventuresome twinkle in my eye and said, “Let’s take a ride…” He paused then replied, “You want to?”

“Yeah, let’s take it out. Let’s get out on the water. No one else is using it right now”… I felt that familiar spontaneous urge bubbling up inside of me.

A few minutes later, we found ourselves zipping across the water like a couple of teenagers. Chris driving, my arms around his lifejacket, I was hanging on for dear life, smiling so big I may have caught some bugs on my front teeth! The thrill, the adventure, the excitement we felt! After fifteen minutes of twists and turns around the lake, Chris turned the jet ski toward the shore and I glanced up only to take in an incredible panoramic view of all the beautiful houses lining the water. And then it resurfaced once again, my big dream, my bold prayer.. “Lord,” I whispered, “You know the desire of my heart.” And then came a different prayer than I have ever prayed for this particular dream, “Thank you Lord that you are providing a way for us to have a house on the water, a big home where all our children and grandchildren can gather and enjoy spending time together. A place that we can make memories, invite friends over, entertain like we love doing. Lord, I delight in you and I wait expectantly to see what you have in store for us. Thank you Jesus in advance for all you are doing in our lives. Thank you for this next chapter, whatever lies ahead.”

I felt a peace in my heart that was none other than God Himself reassuring me, “Lisa, rest in me, delight in me, keep taking steps in the direction that I have purposed for you, and YES, I will give you the desires of your heart.” And I believe in His perfect timing, He will.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4


A Mommy Retreat

When I was a young woman with four small children at home, the days flew
because of the many demands of motherhood. Someone was always
needing my attention: dinner menus, diaper change, toddler’s cry,
school homework, milk supply gone, and need for school volunteers,
Church ministry was waiting on my (lesson? training session?) plan for the next
“Moms with a Mission” meeting.

Spending time with God? Are you kidding me? Sure, I found time for God,
but the prayer and thought time would often be in the car while on errands and
with the children watching a movie or cap-napping in the back seat. There
was only one way to survive that crazy, full time of my life, and it was
the grace of God.

I longed for quiet meditation time alone. Just God and me with a Bible, journal,
and solitude! I desired time to sit by the water for hours with a cup of coffee
so that only fluid thoughts would come for a fresh plan for my life that would
be exciting and fulfilling. Would this ever be possible? I missed God. I
missed the inner me. I needed to know if I were on the right path for God’s will or needed to change direction. Maybe I could say “No” or resign from less meaningful, time-consuming commitments?

As my children have reached maturity, three of the four are no longer in the nest.
The longing for God intensifies. We are not designed to go through life at a
break-neck speed, never stopping to dig our toes in the sand or smell the
coffee (or for that matter, drink the coffee.) We were created with a hole
in our soul that only can be filled by our Creator. Only when we take the
time to just BE, to think, to pray, to seek, and to listen will the void in our souls
begin to be filled with positive thoughts and actions.

Happily, I am pinching myself because of a recent personal retreat of
three days alone on the beach. Three days when no one needed me for
anything! Three days of ocean sunrises and sunsets, of toes in the sand,
of praying, journaling, thinking, listening! A slice of heaven on earth!
Time away alone (the key word is “alone”) filled my love tank, and I
will treasure the experience always.

Privacy allowed me to think about all the blessings that are mine:
my husband, my four beautiful children, and all of God’s blessings
in our lives. When we step back for a little while, we can see things more clearly
and become more focused on the truly important qualities of life.

Do you have a safe, happy place? Is there a creative way for you to take some
much needed time alone? Maybe you cannot leave your family and obligations for three days, but could you escape for three hours? God is waiting for you,
and He wants to fill your soul to remind you of the beautiful creation you are
and the purpose He has for your life. When you return with your soul
replenished, you will find an abundance of fruit already in your garden.
Your spirit of gratitude will overflow into every area of your life. You will find
patience that you did not know existed. You will grow in appreciation of the
people closest to you, and the relationships will deepen and be strengthened.

Whether it’s 30 minutes, three hours, or three days, take a “Mommy Retreat.
I highly recommend it.


Got to be Real

Have you ever been walking through everyday life, surrounded by people all the time, and feeling like no one really knows you? You have thoughts, dreams, ideas, longings, and goals but no one to talk to about them. You talk to your spouse or significant other, and as supportive as they may be, you long for a girlfriend with whom you can be completely open and honest. Someone who will be totally honest with you and not just tell you what you want to hear.
I have found that in this new chapter of my life, friends, true friends are hard to find. When my children were babies and toddlers, and I was a stay at home mommy, I reached out to other mommy friends out of desperation. We had play dates, picnics, and activities at church to occupy our time and deepen our friendships. With several young children at home, those mommies were a life saver to me.
Now I am in a new phase of my life. My oldest daughter, Emily, just got married. My sons, Robert and Patrick, are both away in college. Our little grand finale, Carol Ann, is 13 years old, and becoming quite independent. The Lord is opening doors for me with my career, my book and speaking. Life is full in a dramatically different way than it was when my children were young. No more park or picnic outings. It’s volleyball games, weddings, and long financial discussions with my husband. And I am finding it harder than ever to develop true and deep friendships.
It takes time, patience and a willingness to open up to another person so that walls can come down and real life can be lived in authenticity and grace. Sometimes I walk into church on a Sunday morning to serve at the Welcome table, and I see so many people I know, but don’t really know. And they don’t know me. You know what I’m saying? Is it me who is holding me back from the friendships I long for? Is my ego and desire for others to think I have my life all together stopping me from letting my guard down? Am I allowing the busyness of my life to crowd out room for a sweet friendship? I don’t know what the reason is, but something is holding me back from the relationships that are possible.
As I am writing this reflection I am sitting in a beach restaurant overlooking the ocean on North Padre Island, and one of my favorite songs came on. There’s an 80’s song, one of the best dance songs of all times, called “Got to be Real” by Cheryl Lynn. And Cheryl says it all. We’ve got to be real if we want real and authentic relationships and friendships in our lives. At some point, I must let my guard down and share struggles, share fears, ask for prayer when life is tough. Because it IS tough at times. And don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.
So here is what I’m asking you to do. It’s the same thing I am asking myself to do. Think of a gal with whom you would like to be friends. Then take a step of faith. Call them or text them or next time you see them say, “I’ve been thinking about you. I love your smile and your heart and I would like to get to know you better. Could we meet for coffee or lunch sometime?” When we stop having a pity party, and drop our pride and just cross over the bridge to a new friendship, we will be amazed at the blessings that follow. Who knows, the friend you reached out to may be longing for your friendship too.