Category Archives: dreams

Dreams and Such and So Forth

dreams

At the beginning of every year people throw around the concept of new year resolutions, and truth be told, hearing it gets a bit old after a while. In reality we can make changes any time we desire, and often do.

Maybe it is different for you, but for me those resolutions somehow taste of previous failures – diets, exercise, changing bad habits, etc. They do not motivate me to really change, but focus on regrets instead.

So this year I want to challenge myself as well as you to focus on dreams.

Yes, I know that dreams without a plan will remain a fantasy. But I do not want to discount the value of dreaming. But I do want to make a distinction. When our dreams are not aligned with God’s guidance, we may end up in pain or discouragement or regret. This is the message of Proverbs 29:18.

Yes, we can have very selfish dreams. But even from those places of selfish desire can come the roots of co-creating with God. When we admit and submit those places of yearning to God, beautiful plans can emerge. Will God modify our plans? Yes, most certainly at times. Will He destroy our dreams? If we are headed for destruction I think He might out of love and care for us. But God loves to give good gifts to His children.

I would submit to you that most regrets that people confess as they grow older are not about the things that they did that they are not proud of, but rather the things they might have done, but didn’t. Those are the stuff of dreams not pursued.

I am not going to confess all my regrets here, but simply encourage you to consider some of the dreams that you have buried or put aside for “later”. Later comes much faster than you can imagine. If you want to learn to play an instrument, start now. If you want to try your hand at writing, write now. If you want to volunteer for something meaningful, make a call and check it out. Whatever is at the back of your mind, bring it forward. Play with it. Journal about it. Share it with another safe person.

Some of these dreams comes as a burden on your heart. You see what isn’t but could be. For others you see something that exists but could be better or bigger or more and want to lend your expertise or energy. A lot depends on your personality, your resources and your skills. When dreaming, optimism is helpful when it stays within the confines of reality. And skepticism is helpful when it keeps us anchored to reality but has broken free from the bonds of fear.

Whenever Nan & I took a huge step towards our future we were scared, but excited. We bought a home. She entered graduate school and changed professions. I quit a job and pursued a music career. I changed careers. We bought a business. We sold a business. We bought a retreat home. Each one started as a dream and felt risky. But each one was worth our effort because our motives were positive, or at least neutral. Evil can also dream and take risks. Even if there is a temporary payoff there is an ultimate cost.

So, what do you want to do about your dreams? Or do you even allow yourself to dream? Or maybe you need to release your dreams to God and see what happens? And lastly maybe you need to pray and ask God to show you possibilities that He sees for you.

Recording Contracts and Disappointments

Disappointment

Back in the day (the late 1960’s) our band signed with a now long defunct record company, Dot Records. Many experts consider this era the pinnacle of the record business, where every company was scrambling for talent to promote. Money was being spent on artists with potential, as opposed to those with a solid track record. We recorded some vocal tracks at a cool little pro studio (Alamo) in North Hollywood, and the now famous Wrecking Crew provided the instrumental tracks. We were on our way. It was going to be the “big time” for us.

But then the bottom dropped out. Dot Records went bankrupt and shut down and we were left with a worthless contract. We were looked at by a couple of other companies, but didn’t generate enough interest to get picked up.

What do you do when disappointment comes your way?

Yes, grief ensued in all it’s glory: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I know we, the band, felt all of those things. But what did we DO that got us through the disappointment?

  1. We kept on going. We didn’t let the demise of the company mean the demise of us. We took action and started looking around for other options. Although we did not ultimately get where we had hoped, we met a lot of really great people along the way.
  1. We didn’t blame people. Everyone involved was affected by the company closure. People lost their jobs and had to find new employment. Trying to pin the loss on someone was unproductive: it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.
  1. We managed our feelings by processing together. Individually isolated we might have leaned toward pessimism or bitterness. Instead we supported each other by affirming our worth in a very musician kind of way: we spent more time practicing together and wrote more songs. We released the pent-up energy in a positive manner.

We all have had, and are going to continue to have setbacks in our lives. It is inevitable because we live in a competitive world. Your needs, wants and desires compete with other people’s at times, and you won’t always have things your way. Or circumstances emerge that are either not controllable or favorable to you and you have to adjust. It is disappointing.

The kind of work we do at The Relationship Center is largely helping people manage these challenges. We guide them through the grief, power struggles, trust issues and marital drifting that occurs, particularly in long-term relationships.

Will you see these occasions as opportunities for growth? Will you allow your feelings to accept the losses in a realistic manner without over or under reacting to them? In a culture like ours which is principally person-centered, it can be really hard to do. But that is what maturity is all about.

On a Beach Far Far Away

 
 
My first experience with a “retreat” was as a child. And for me, it wasn’t so wonderful, and certainly not restful. It was some sort of Christian boy’s camp held at a ranch. It was called Green Acres or Green Oaks or something like that. I was put on a bus with a bunch of kids I didn’t know and told to sit down and be quiet “or else” by the guy in charge. Nice.
 
The highlights of that long weekend that I can remember were the ability to buy candy at the camp store if your parents had thought to give you some pocket money, and riding a mule that stopped every few feet to relieve itself.
 
My idea of a retreat today is somewhat different than my early experience. 
 
There are many kinds of retreats – personal development retreats, educational retreats, spiritual retreats, and just-leave-me-alone-so-I-won’t-go-nuts retreats. Some professions (like raising children) are probably most subject to the last one. I think I’ll call it an emergency retreat. It becomes necessary when the stressors of life overwhelm us. Although I have heard that you can “have a retreat in your own home”, somehow I think the vast majority of us can’t detach enough in our own environments in order to accomplish that. There are simply too many things calling out for attention.
 
God’s plan for us is to have times of rest. If you are a motivated leader in any capacity, rest may feel like a low priority and an unneeded interruption in a busy life. But those who do not build rest into their lives may find unscheduled “retreats” in the form of doctor or hospital visits. Pastors, counselors, business leaders and medical professionals often fall into this category. But it is not just leaders that need to detach. Employees who work in high stress environments are subject to burnout and overload as well. Taking a couple of mental health days is better than a week of sick days.
 
Most people will have to have a planned retreat built into their lives. So often a vacation is not a restful retreat, especially if it involves children. A retreat should be free from daily responsibilities, and where kids are involved that is simply not possible. Also, many people make vacations heavy on activities – and that’s not the purpose of a retreat.
 
On retreats I want to have space to think, to dream, and to recreate without pressure to perform. I also want to be able to spend time with positive sensory input, in other words, just feeling stuff. I like long stretches of uninterrupted “being”, and not doing. I often wrestle with a feeling of anxiety for not accomplishing anything concrete. But then I remind myself that that is precisely the point. I am dealing with the intangibles of life that nourish the soul, like spending time with just me and God. All good retreats offered by churches and other organizations include a heavy dose of this separate time, away from the planned events and connect time.
 
Recently I posted a question on Facebook asking where you would most like to spend time in retreat: desert, mountain or beach. I would like to ask it here as well. Use the comment box below to describe your favorite formal or informal retreat setting.