My Lifelong Dream Has Come True

My lifelong dream has come true. Our lives have changed dramatically and beautifully in the last month. Since marrying my husband in 2013, I’ve been a “bonus” mom to two sweet, energetic, loving little girls. And now, God has seen fit to expand our family with a beautiful baby boy we’ve been privileged to adopt! That’s right. I’ve become a mommy.

If you’ve read my books or followed me for a while, you know this has been a dream deferred, but I have never given up on the vision I’ve sensed deep in my spirit for marriage and family. At times, I have felt frustrated, helpless, and discouraged, but I refused to give up hope. I could not. To give up hope would be to give up on God. As I stand in the midst of this vision of love that has unfolded, I feel led to share my lessons learned so I can encourage you to persevere towards your own vision – whatever that vision might be:

1. Keep hoping.
Without hope, there is no vision. When you stop hoping, you start settling. Be relentless and focused. At times, it may even appear you are delusional to keep hoping. So what! Keep believing in your vision and make decisions, whether about relationships, finances, career, that honor your ultimate goal.

2. Don’t let disappointments become your destination.
Separation and divorce. Navigating the tumultuous dating landscape of Atlanta. Trying to conceive over 40. Miscarrying twins. All have been my reality in the last seven years. Each could have become a bitter destination, except for this: I refused to see my disappointments as a permanent destination. Some were devastating detours. I had to stop journeying for a while and recover. But I made a decision to be better and not bitter after each one. I made a decision not to get stuck staring at the obstacles before me, but to look up and remember the vision in my heart. That vision compelled me to keep hoping and keep moving forward.

3. Be open to a path that looks different than you expected.
It is easy to be rigid about how your dream must come together. Don’t. Be open to divine orchestration. Let go of your need to control the “how” of your vision so you can stay focused on the “why” – which leads me to this last point …

4. Stay focused on the PURPOSE of your vision more than the excitement of it.
At points, I began to doubt whether I would ever become a mother, and before that, whether I would ever find the kind of love I believe in. A transformational message emerged from my doubt, though. I asked myself, “What if you never marry?” “What if you never have a child?” And I answered my “What if” questions. Here’s what I realized: The world would not come to an end, so I better learn to be happy regardless of the outcome! If I didn’t get married or have children, I would live my life single without children and I would choose to have an incredible life. There are many women I greatly admire who are single without children – and happy, purposeful, loved and loving. So then, what would be the purpose of marriage and family in my life? That is the question I needed to answer for myself. I don’t believe that having a child is about me becoming a mom. I believe it is about having the blessed opportunity to nurture and grow a child I have been entrusted to raise. What an honor. It is about him, not me. And perhaps that is the shift in thinking that shifted my life and brought us this amazing, perfect little boy for us.

My challenge to you this week:
Persevere! Stay focused on your vision. Don’t give up.

 

Journaling questions:
What is the vision that you’ve yet to realize, but still hope to see unfold? What is the PURPOSE behind your vision? In what way(s) do you need to open yourself to a path that looks different than you expected? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

Just for Laughs!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

If you were ever a Seinfeld fan, perhaps you remember the episode in which Jerry dates a woman and his friends point out to him that she never laughs. Instead, when Jerry says something funny, she just says in a deadpan tone, “That’s funny.” It’s quite ironic since she’s dating a comedian. And it brings me to this point: Laughter is not meant to be held in, controlled, or watered down.

Lol is so overused today that no one really means lol when they say lol! Lol. Literally. Every day, something ought to make you laugh out loud. So open your mouth. Smile big. Laugh out loud – from your belly. No clothed-mouthed laughing allowed – besides, it sounds ridiculous and makes you look constipated. I once knew a woman who always laughed with her mouth closed, like she was going to get into trouble if she really let it out. She pressed her lips together and made a little giggle noise from her throat – and sometimes when it became way too hard for her to keep it in, the laughter would push its way out through her nose, like bad snoring on the exhale.

One day, I said, “How come you laugh quiet?”

She laughed (with her mouth closed) at my question, and then said, “I hadn’t thought about it. Is that what I do?”

“Yes! And I just want you to let it out!” I replied.

“You know, when I was a kid, I got in trouble for laughing and a relative told me it wasn’t ladylike for girls to laugh loud, so I came up with a cute laugh that wasn’t so loud” she reflected.

“Do you still believe that?” I asked.

“Well, actually, no,” she said.

Laughing is healthy. And as adults, we don’t do enough of it. If you have trouble laughing, get around babies. The average baby laughs 300 times a day. The average adult? Just 20 times a day. Like smiling, laughter is a universal human language. Neurophysiologists explain that laughter activates the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain the produces endorphins. Laughter has been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It can actually boost your immune system – and your brain power. The resulting positive emotions expand your ability to learn and absorb new information. This is why speakers often start with a joke, and do well to incorporate humor into their presentations, no matter how serious the subject matter. So just how can you incorporate more laughter into your day.

Consider these ideas:

  • Lighten up and laugh at yourself!
  • Spend time around people who laugh.
  • Watch something funny.
  • Play with a baby or young children.
  • Tell and listen to humorous stories and memories.

So laugh this week! Even in those moments when you may be stressed, think back to a time when you had an uncontrollable laugh, or tell yourself a joke and see how it increases your mood for the day. What do you have to laugh or smile about this week? What happy thoughts can you reflect on that can give you a genuine laugh? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!