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Keep it Simple: How to Achieve Your Dream Part 2

“Everything in life should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” ~ALBERT EINSTEIN

When it comes to doing anything, especially taking a dream and birthing it into the tangible, keeping things simple is a very crucial admonition to keep in mind.

For most of us, our knee-jerk reaction to anything new is to overthink it. We begin to compare our ‘pearl’ with oyster farms of others who have similar dreams already up and running. We begin to add extra bells and whistles to our end products and we haven’t even actually ‘made’ them yet.

We take precious ideas, born in a moment of genius, and think it from the mustard seed it began as, and transform it into craggy, dark mountains that we feel ill-equipped to climb.

Yes, most dreams, especially those that will involve creative income, do come with seeming miles of information that needs to be learned. All of it is important, but none of it is necessary at the very beginning of the dream.

What is important is to take the first step.

With whatever we aim to do, whatever we have taken the step to believe to do, we must remember to keep it simple. It is so easy to overcomplicate things and make what should have been an enjoyable task or journey something loathsome.

But at the same time, as we are keeping things simple by not overcomplicating them, we need to remember NOT to make them simpler.

To me, this means to not dumb down our dreams to the point that they have transformed into cheap counterfeits of our original visions. Don’t cut necessary corners of the process in order to catch up with the so-called competition.

Simple means, again, to be uncomplicated. Choose to Believe without all the complication.

You don’t have to have all the answers yet. Let your seed be a seed, then a sapling, and then tend it until it grows into a tree. Step by step. Worry about ‘racking the leaves’ the moment your tree is big enough to produce some shade.

Keep it simple. Allow your dream to grow in stages. Each step counts. Things only get complicated when you try to leap over more than one step at a time.

Simply write your first draft, create your preliminary sketch, sing your song until the notes come naturally, build your business by creating a starter plan, bake the cake, live your life…simply.

Our dreams are developed by means of a process. There are steps to climb but we do best taking one step at a time. Simple.

For Part 1 of this series, see Believe You Can: How to Achieve your Dream Part 1

*Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

**Originally published May 15, 2017.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

The Wisdom of Resting

“And He (Jesus) said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” ~MARK 6:31

Sometimes we confuse rest with being lazy which to think this way about rest is the antithesis of what we are called to do in Hebrews 4. We are actually told to fear not entering the Lord’s rest.

We often think that if we are in the midst of pursuing our dreams and passion that if we pause to rest it is akin to giving up which is born from taking the verses in Isaiah out of context that says we won’t get weary…I have been guilty of this faulty mindset as well.

But there is a wisdom in resting, especially when our roads of pursuit reach a point of intermission, quite like being in-between several floors while on an elevator. While in the midst of that transition, you wait and you rest and only walk once the door to your destination opens.

RESTING IN TRANSITION

When the Lord was with the disciples going from one place on the Galilee to the other side, He went into the bottom of the boat and rested (MARK 4:38-40).

When Elijah was on his way to meet God in the mountain, he not only took several long naps in preparation for his journey but he also ate his fill while he rested (I KINGS 19:1-9).

There is wisdom in gassing up in the midst of a run. Even those who run long distances know the wisdom of stopping to the side of the path to get a drink of water before continuing on.

THE WISDOM OF THE 5 VIRGINS

In the parable of the 10 Virgins (MATTHEW 25:1-13), we see all of the women, both the foolish and the wise, resting while waiting for the Lord or Bridegroom to come to His wedding feast.

The difference between the foolish virgins and the wise was that the wise had done all that they could do in preparation for waiting for the Bridegroom to come, and so being fully prepared for His arrival they rested, refueling for the celebration ahead (MATTHEW 25:6-9).

Even in EPHESIANS 6:10-18, we are told to just stand after we have done all that we can, having been made fully ready for what is ahead (see verse 13).

RESTING RELEASES OUR TRUST

Finally, Creatives, resting symbolizes our full trust in the Lord. It is truly the picture of us allowing the Wise and Good Shepherd to lead us forward when we need to go forward and to be still when we ought to as well (PSALM 23).

It is when we trust Him that we will rest in the midst of our storms.

So be encouraged as you go forward to take comfort in your moments of rest. It is good to be still every now and again and there is no shame or guilt to be had in it. Let Him lead you into wise resting

For more encouragement on resting, see THE REWARDS OF RESTING & WAITING

*Photo by Arun Sharma on Unsplash

Doing Your Part: The Art of What You Can

“You can’t do it all. But you can do your part.” ~Candice Coates

I saw a collection of photos the other day on social media. It was a brilliant article about a couple who reforested land, shared on Bored Panda. The images showed the twenty-year difference that was made when a couple decided to reforest a deforested area. They planted 20 million trees and in the span of two decades what was nothing but a wasteland turned into a green oasis where even the wildlife began to return.

This is victory. This is joy. This is doing ones part.

This couple did not set out to rebuild all the damaged land but they did restore the land that was in front of them and they are now reaping the fruits of their labors just like the animals that returned, as well as future generations that will come.

This couple can sit back and rejoice for a job well done because that is what they have done. They saw a need, they counted the cost, and they did what was in their ability to do without bemoaning what they could not.

DOING WHAT YOU CAN

When the children of Israel set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem each rebuilt the portion of wall that was in front of them. They did not worry about the sections in front of others but tended to what was before them. They didn’t set out to do it all but they did their part (NEHEMIAH 3).

What is before you today? What is burning in your heart?

Remember, it is not up to you to do it all only what God has purposed in your heart to do. Some plant, some water, and others bring in the harvest.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” ~I CORINTHIANS 3:6-9

If all you can do is give one child a cup of water even if you can’t quench the thirst of them all, know that you have begun a ripple that will eventually saturate the entire world just because you have done your part.

Be brave. Be diligent. And with joy, do your part!

*Inspiring story found on BoredPanda.com

*Photo by Elliot Fais from Pexels

The Joy in Trusting & Waiting: Faith for Creatives

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” ~PSALM 5:11-12

What I have learned looking back over the recent last near twenty years of my life and faith-walk with Christ is that deliverance from the Lord always comes, and there is such joy when it does!

And I am not talking about relief which is also a beautiful thing, but pure joy.

No matter how long it takes, no matter how bad it looks, the Lord always shows up in a mighty and perfect way because He is faithful.

The struggle of trusting, however, comes in the tangent of waiting.

Waiting leaves room for our minds to wander in the direction of doubt. Waiting allows the situations and circumstances to sour.

But waiting also gives us the opportunity to grow. Waiting really puts our trust to the test. Will we hold on to what the Lord has said or will we allow what we are seeing to pollute our faith?

In every circumstance and every mountain of testing, I have encountered, the choice to choose to trust has always been mine, just as it is yours.

I have found when I have chosen to wait and trust, I have been able to look back and really see Christ’s love in action for me in a way that I was not able to see it in the midst of the storm.

And when I look back and see the artistry and mastery of His power having worked in my life I am filled with such awe and joy and more, a memorial to equip me for the testing moments of learning deeper trust in Him that are certain to come.

So I encourage you to remain in hope and always wait on the Lord with trust, for happy are they who wait on Him!

He will never put us to shame nor disappoint us, but He always makes the wait worth the while!

For more encouragement on the topic, see No Room for Worry.

*Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

~Poeima, Poetry in Motion

Retraining Your Brain: Defeating Negativity in Your Faith-Walk by Briana Lassiter

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time on false and harmful thought patterns that only brought me deeper into whatever difficulty I happened to be in at the time.

I have had to learn that my thought patterns are not God’s responsibility, not that He won’t help me when I need it, not that He won’t step in and heal and give me breakthroughs, He always will, but it is my choice.

He cannot and will not work in our lives if we refuse Him access.

I cannot expect Him to step in and heal my thought patterns if when He intends to begin, I intend to push back. Breakthroughs with anything only begin with surrender.

Sometimes the Lord just whispers gently to us, ‘You gotta work with Me.’

So if you’re at the place with God where you’re ready to work with Him the next time you feel yourself falling into a bad thought pattern, the best way to retrain your brain, is to make a list of truths, truths about you, truths about God, truths about His promises, and verses He’s given you specifically concerning your purpose.

If you begin to try to create a new habit of pulling out this list of truths every time your brain hears a lie, in time, you will find yourself not entertaining the lies anymore and asking yourself things like well, what if God really isn’t good, or what if He doesn’t care about me? Or what if He’s ashamed of me?

Instead, your habit will become confronting every lie with the TRUTH of who you are, who God is, and what your purpose and calling are. Not only will you destroy the yoke of old thought patterns, but you will also begin to be confident in the Lord, rooted, grounded, and built up in love.

You will be so instilled and infused with truth over time, that your knee jerk reaction is to overflow with it, and your old way of thinking will feel foreign.

If you’re currently in a funk and not ready to even consider this plan, I would encourage you to ask the Lord, just ask Him to help you want to make a start.

He is not surprised or disappointed or ashamed of you for where you are.

But He does offer His hand to you to help you move forward if you choose.

Here are some of my personal favorite truths on my own list. You may read them and not even be at a place where you can believe them, that’s okay. You don’t have to be right now. They are true whether you believe it or not, and your act of obedience in just reading them will always be blessed.

*Take some time and spend it in the Word, looking up these verses below. It will help in your practice!

TRUTHS ABOUT YOU:
• You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
• You were created to do good works
• You are redeemed from the curse of the law
• You are established in righteousness and oppression is far from you
• You do not have the spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind
• You are healed by Jesus stripes
• You overcome all power of the enemy because greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world
• You are loved with an everlasting love
• No one can take you out of the Fathers hand
• There is nowhere you can go, where He is not there
• You have a future hope, and your hope will not be cut off
• You are dearly beloved and washed white as snow
• The blood of Jesus makes you guiltless and blameless

TRUTHS ABOUT GOD
• He cannot lie
• From age to age He is the same
• He is Just
• All His ways are Truth
• He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all
• His plans for you are GOOD
• He works all things together for your good
• His plans will stand, He will work and no one is going to stop Him
• He is good, and His loving-kindness endures forever
• He is the Good Shepherd, He gave His life for you
• He knows the number of the hairs on your head, and there is no detail of you that He does not know and care about
• His love for you endures forever
• He is the Creator and the life giver

I hope my lists are a helpful jumping off place as you begin to create your own lists full of the affirmations, passages, and promises that are your own.

May you be blessed as you begin to engage in the highly effective strategy of truth speaking in your own spiritual warfare.

*Photo by Sarah Noltner on Unsplash

By Briana Lassiter

Bri Small headshotI’m married to my dearest friend of 8 years and mom to an energetic 6-year-old. My greatest joys come from traveling with my little family, cooking for appreciative recipients, learning herbalism and natural medicine, and every experience I get to have in prayer ministry. I’m an avid tea and book lover and can’t get enough of either. I love Jesus and the daily adventure that comes from walking in friendship with him as he arranges and rearranges my story.

Believe You Can: How to Achieve Your Dream Part 1

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~Theodre Roosevelt

One of the most glorious things about life is that even though it can be considered a canvas, it certainly is not a ‘paint by numbers.’ Life is not a one-size-fits-all even if certain ideas and concepts may mirror that of another’s. There still, and always, remains the glory of uniqueness in each person’s life and creation.

I believe that Christ Jesus has a plan for each of us, a perfect design that He wants us to be co-workers with Him upon.

He gives us dreams for a reason.

Some dreams we take hold of and bring to manifestation, while sadly, others, we leave to float away like feathers in the wind.

Many times, the dreams that get away from us are the dreams that we can’t seem to muster the faith for or we allow our faith to be choked out of us in the struggle.

BUT HOW DO WE CEASE TO DO THIS?

We have to make a connection with faith and hold on to it. The Lord tells us that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed and nothing will be impossible for us (Matthews 17:20) The glory of such a small seed is that it becomes very large when placed in the right soil and environment.

The blessing for us is that anything that we put in the hand of the Master has the potential to be greatly multiplied beyond what we can even hope or imagine! (Matthew 14:13-21,  Ephesians 3:14-21)

We have to see more opportunities than obstacles.  We must no longer minimize the potential of the seed of the dreams we have and stop polluting the soil of opportunity with weeds of fear and doubt.

In order to do this, we need to remind ourselves of the great love that Christ Jesus has for us. He is the one who has given us the dream and He loves us.

Fear, however, is the opponent of love (I John 4:18), and not only are you greatly loved but you have not been given the spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7)

We also have to use our creative imagination with faith-filled courage and not fear-filled conjecture. We must focus on the potential truth of imaginative vision instead of the frailty of tangible sight.

The book of Proverbs tells us that as a man thinks in his heart so he is (Proverbs 23:7)These thoughts which soon become reality begin as a seed of imagination. They can either be based out of fear as well as incomplete information or fuelled by faith.

To be ruled by conjecture is similar to looking into a pool and concluding that the waters are not deep because they ‘look’ to be shallow, only to find out you were wrong once your head is under water.

Operating in the truth of imaginative vision is to step out in faith and we are encouraged in the Word that Faith is the substance of things not seen and the evidence of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). Evidence is not conjecture. Evidence is truth!

FAITH IT!

The beauty in this is that the greatest push for us to accomplish those dreams that make our hearts flutter is to first believe. Believing, making the commitment to take the step, is the greatest part of the journey.

It is the first step toward your dream, and believing enough to step out means you are already halfway there!

*Original article posted May 8th, 2017

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Wrestling with Unbelief: The Strengthening of Faith

Wrestling with unbelief and doubt is nothing that we should be ashamed of. In all actuality, it is something that we should celebrate with joy.

Why?

Because it is a clear sign that we have enough faith on the level in our faith-walk that we are currently pressing in to press for more than what we have.

We are wrestling with the limit of now until we breakthrough to greater levels of belief. We wrestle because we believe!

If we were hope-less people, we would cease to ask God for more. We cease to ask the Lord to strengthen us to overcome the unbelief that is being exposed.

The simple truth is that we pray for what we have hope for and what does the Word of God say about hope:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.~HEBREWS 11:1

Our faith pushes us to pray for what we have hope for and what we hope for is more faith, especially in the area He is calling our faith to be increased.

But here is the glory. He never asks us for anything He has not equipped or empowered us to give (HEBREWS 13:20-21), PHILIPPIANS 2:13 and when we move in hope toward hope we are assured that we will not be disappointed because hope does not disappoint (ROMANS 5:5).

Furthermore, we are assured by Christ Jesus Himself that anything we ask in the will of the Father, we know that we are heard and we have what we’ve asked because we have asked in His Name (JOHN 11:41, JOHN 16:26-27).

So rejoice as you wrestle. There may be tears, there may be torn muscles, you may find yourself breathless at moments, but rest assured that after the struggle those muscles will be strengthened and your faith will have increased to levels you had never imaged all because you faithed to wrestle for more (ROMANS 1:17)!

Just remember, your faith is not predicated on what you feel. It does not depend on feelings so wrestle on.

*Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Preparing for Overflow: Faith for Creatives

“”But now bring me (Elisha) a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.  And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand … Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water.” ~II KINGS 3:15-18, 20

The start of this chapter of II Kings 3, we find the Kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom preparing to go to battle against the King of Moab. But on their way to war, they find themselves in the midst of the desert, with masses of men and animals and not a drop of water to drink.

WORSHIP IS OUR FIRST WEAPON

Seeking the wisdom of the Prophet Elisha, they are instructed to bring him a musician in order to set the atmosphere from him to hear from the Lord. And moments later a word is given.

The importance of worship is that it sets our hearts and minds on the King of Kings and brings us deeper into His presence. It drowns out the lies of the enemy as He inhabits the praises.

In the secret place with Him, the Lord can then give us the reminder of His word and the peace the surpasses understanding as we cast our cares upon Him.

FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN

The instructions that the Lord gave unto them was to dig ditches in the valley of the desert with expectation in faith that the Lord would fill them. They would not see where or how the water would come, it was just going to show up!

Make this valley full of ditches.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.’ vs 16-18.

PREPARING FOR OVERFLOW

For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ vs 17

The Lord told the people to dig ditches for water, but then He tells them that He is going to FILL THE VALLEY WITH WATER NOT JUST THE TRENCHES!

You see our Heavenly Father, always exceeds our requests and expectations. He always does exceedingly and abundantly (EPH. 3:20-21). He always brings our blessing pressed down shaken together and overflowing (LUKE 6:38).

He always fills beyond the brim (PSALM 23:5)!

When we set out in faith to do with faith what the Lord has purposed in our hearts to do, whether we can see how it is going to be done or come to pass is irrelevant. What matters is that we prepare Him room to fill beyond our level to receive.

Our Precious Jesus is waiting for us all to prepare Him room to go beyond our need so that we can not only be blessed but that we are made able to be a blessing for others!

Dig your trenches and prepare for overflow! Watch Him fill your valleys in ways you can’t even imagine. He has so much in store for you and those He wants you to be a blessing to.

~Poeima, Poetry in Motion

*Photo by Rui Silvestre on Unsplash

 

A Letter to the Mother’s & Children Who Never Got to Embrace on Mother’s Day by Briana Lassiter

Some might think it’s a little bit of a downer to talk about miscarriage on Mothers Day, but the statistics show that about 1 in 4 pregnancies ends with loss, so I know that my experience is far from uncommon.

I feel like there’s a stigma surrounding miscarriage that usually keeps women from even speaking about the experience, much less processing their loss in a supported way.

I’m not really here for that stigma, and I hope you know that if you’re struggling today, it’s okay. It’s okay to grieve today.

It’s okay to feel heartbroken today.
It’s okay to take care of you today.

You are loved, you are seen, and you are not alone.

I pray that the sting of others insensitive words and actions regarding your loss, be lifted off you, and your heart be given the freedom to heal from this experience fully and that you find the grace to know that it’s okay not to be okay today.

To my babe,
(and all Moms who have lost them)

I didn’t really know I was pregnant, nor did I fully think I was having a miscarriage until the moment I knew you were gone from me.

I didn’t know I wanted you so desperately and I didn’t know there would a giant hole in my life without you.

I didn’t know I would mourn the loss of time and experiences you would never have with me.

I didn’t know I would stay up at night and wonder if you looked like your dad like your sister does, or if you would have looked like me.

I didn’t know that every year I would remember when you left and miss someone I didn’t get to meet.

I have fought hard to grieve for you.
I have pushed back on those who would say you weren’t a person because I lost you so early.

I have rejected the words of those who were insensitive to my grief because they didn’t know how to deal with their own losses.

I have grown in compassion and love because of the experience of you. I still think of you every Mothers Day and wish you were here.

I know you are in heaven, and I am comforted by the knowledge that someday, I will see you again, and get to properly meet you as the person who was meant to be your Mother.

Love, Mom

*Photo by Alekon pictures on Unsplash

By Briana Lassiter

Bri Small headshotI’m married to my dearest friend of 8 years and mom to an energetic 6-year-old. My greatest joys come from traveling with my little family, cooking for appreciative recipients, learning herbalism and natural medicine, and every experience I get to have in prayer ministry. I’m an avid tea and book lover and can’t get enough of either. I love Jesus and the daily adventure that comes from walking in friendship with him as he arranges and rearranges my story.

It All Started With A Cake: How to Achieve Your Dream Intro

Imagine you are a thirty-something with a college degree. You have been working in your field of study since you took off your cap and gown and gained your credentials. Your student loans are just about paid off. Life is good.

But something else burns in your core, something that seems so little but at the same time fills you with more joy than you could ever imagine.

Cake.

Whenever there is a potluck at work, you bake a cake. Birthdays? Folks request your cakes. From baby showers to bar mitzvahs those who know you want you to bake them a cake!

What’s more, is you love to do so. But what about your 9 to 5 job? The same fulfillment you had there is waning and the drive and dream to bake consume your thoughts. You’ve prayed and prayed for the Lord to give you direction and all you keep seeing is more cake; more designs, more recipes, and ideas to build your own cake company.

But it’s just cake, you think to yourself. What impact and contribution can you make in the world and the Kingdom of God by making cakes? 

Still uncertain of the power of your powdered-sugar dream, still thinking its nothing more than a nagging hobby, you begin to expand your reach. Orders start coming in, to the point you have to up your marketing and hire part-time help.

Business is doing okay, you are enjoying yourself but there seems to be something missing.

A friend from church in passing tells you that they are in need of a program that helps give inmates in transition from prison life to life beyond bars skills. They ask you if you have any ideas.

You offer a simple pound cake recipe for them to learn how to bake and sell which brings awareness to the program, helping inmates learn life skills,  earn money, and a sense of self-worth and dignity from their efforts.

In the meantime, you become more involved with the prison ministry and with the wisdom and knowledge from your degree, begin to help it expand from county to state, while your main cake making program grows and even advertises its involvement with the prison ministry.

Over the course of five years, the fledgling prison ministry is showing success helping former inmates transition back into their communities. Lives are changed, souls are saved, families are healed…and it all started with a cake.

EVERY ONE HAS SOMETHING OF USE NO MATTER HOW SMALL IT SEEMS

Does this sound too good to be true? Well, here is the thing. Even though this story is fiction, there are many like it that mirror the same thread of how the Lord took a talent, a desire, something seemingly small and used it to change the lives of many for His glory!

With Moses, it was a shepherd’s staff (EXODUS 4:1-5), David it was a slingshot and five stones in addition to an obedient servant’s heart to deliver bread and cheese (I SAM. 17). With Peter it was an empty fishing boat (LUKE 5:1-10), or even Tabitha (ACTS 9:36-42).

There are even others today who are using their talents today to make an impact in the world and the Kingdom of God with other things that seemed as simple as cake!

CHRIST GAVE YOU THE SEED AND A DREAM FOR A REASON

Whatever the seed is inside of you, the dream that keeps playing over in your heart and mind even while you are awake is there for a reason and the Lord wants you to pursue it!

This month’s series, HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR DREAM is all about giving each of us the starting steps and encouragement we need to do just that.

Stay tuned for Part 1 coming up next week!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Image by nataliabritortv from Pixabay