How to Make Your God Dream Come True

Six Steps to Make Your God Dream Come True

God gave you a dream, and it is scaring the heck out of you. Now what do you do?

It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Ahh…better?

In today’s post, I’ve incorporated six steps to help you get started.

“I have a dream. Now, what?” is the question I get asked more often than any other.

People have seen the dream I had for our community through The Link of Cullman County come to fruition and wonder, “Well, how did you do that and how can I do the same?”

Last week I talked about how to know if your dream is just a big goal or if it was a dream that God placed on your heart to pursue.  You may want to read that post first if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet.

It is there that I help readers understand and know the difference between the two. This week I want to try and lay out some of the steps you can take once you know for sure you have a God dream.

This is where the “rubber hits the road” where the “ax hits the grind” where the “pen hits the paper” to overplay the cliches.  And I hope it makes its point.

Because here is where I see things go south and quick. Someone has a dream, and they talk about it, and they talk about it, and they talk about it. But they never actually do anything.

You Have a Choice

Sooner or later, you are going to have to choose to either go after this big, scary dream you have or honestly, shut up about it.

When The Link started to come to fruition, I had a few people say to me, ” I had the same dream as you. I journaled about it; I have a binder about it, or I told people about it.” I don’t know why it happened to you but not for me.

Honestly, I don’t know why it did either, but I am assuming that your dream was just that a dream and it never transitioned to action.

So that is what I am going to promise you today, I will share with you the steps to help you take action on that dream. However, just like last week, I have a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: I am not God. I have no way of knowing His timing or whether your dream is from Him or not. I also have no idea of your dream is to actually in support of someone else’s God dream, and not something you will get to see come to pass. Think Moses and Joshua.

I do know that there are some teachable concepts that I can share with you that God used with me to help you pursue Him and engage others in your dream.

How to Make Your God Dream Come True | Six Steps to Get You Started

One: Trust and Obey

The best piece of advice I received from someone on what I needed to do next was “trust God and obey what He says” Seems simple, right?

Simple to say, harder to execute.

For me, this was challenging because I had a carotid body tumor removed from my neck which rendered me temporarily disabled.  The surgery caused damage to my nerves and vocal chords.  Which eventually left me with a severance package and no job.

For the first time since I was twelve, I was unemployed and now also unsure of my future. I had no idea what was next except this vision/dream from God for an organization that would serve the needs of the poor.

If I am honest, I was not excited enough about this God dream to go after it. What I was passionate about was serving women through speaking and teaching. I had wanted that dream to come true, nearly since I was saved about nine years prior.  Now I was living in the south where my type of work was not prevalent, Cullman, AL though growing would still be a hard place for someone like me to find a job.

But God’s plans were different than mine. 

So here I was temporarily disabled, unemployed, and trying to minister to a husband whose dream had been crushed by a failed church plant. Confused and unsure may have been an understatement at that point.

So now, here we are in a very uncomfortable place, not knowing what to do and the advice I received in this season was “trust and obey.”

Trust. And then obey whatever God tells you to do. Ugh. Simple and to the point, easy to remember, so I decided to do it.

And it changed everything.

Day by day I would wake and ask the Lord, what should I do today? If I felt Him impress something on my heart, I would obey. If I sat in silence, I’d seek Him in His word.

That daily practice started to lead me to conversations with people about this dream; then I would pray about it more. It wasn’t long before God began highlighting His heart for the poor in His Word. I got my hands on some books that seemed to speak to relational ministries to the poor Then I prayed the all-changing prayer.

“Lord, what would you have me do?”

Two: Surrender the Dream

Which leads me to the next thing you need to do. Surrender the dream to God. Only He truly knows the timing, who is supposed to be part of the dream, what role you are to play, what resources you’ll need, where it will happen, and how it will transform your community.

For me, that looked like taking the dream I always hoped to pursue and put it up on the chopping block with the God dream He now impressed on my heart to accomplish.

It wasn’t long before God confirmed which dream I was to follow.

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, give up the dream I wanted to follow the one God wanted me to carry out.

Both were good. Both would help a lot of people. But one was mine, and the other was His.

I can tell you now on the other side of that how sweet the blessing of surrender has become. Knowing the lives that have been transformed in my community because I said “Yes” to His plan. The relationships I have now have sharpened me and helped me grow in my faith would never have been if I didn’t surrender.

And then when you consider what I have learned, including how to overcome my addiction to approval, I am not sure my path would have allowed me the opportunities I have been afforded, including publishing a book on that same topic, releasing May 15th by Worthy Publishing.

Like Me or Not Overcoming Approval Addiction

Three: People < God

This may feel a bit strange to you to diminish what people are saying. It took me a lot to figure out how to do this because we all need the affirmation of people around us. In fact, God will use these people to encourage us. However, we need to make sure no matter what, that God trumps people. Even when those people are stroking our egos.

Here is why: back in the day, there was this good-looking, smart teenager, from a no-name family, was sent out on a donkey-hunting mission. Unbeknownst to him, God had selected him to be the first king of Israel. He was anointed, appointed, had the Spirit of God come upon Him, prophesied with the Prophets and empowered by God. Regardless, his insecurity and people-pleasing needs made people’s opinions of him more significant than God’s, and eventually, he was rejected as king.

Know who that was? King Saul. (You know the one who was on a crazy chase to kill his replacement, David? You can read all about him here.)

Saul was anointed and appointed to do the dream God had for him in ruling the Israelites, but he let people and their opinions become more influential than God.

This is true when they are affirming us, and this is also true when they are rejecting us. If you know for sure that God gave you this dream, you’ll need to seek Him, trust and obey Him, surrender to Him and make His Words of greater significance than man’s.

Four: Become a Student

One of the essential postures you need to take in this process is becoming a student of the dream. If this dream is from God and not you, more than likely you will not feel equipped to do it. In fact, it may feel as if you are the last person on planet earth that needs to be doing this dream.

That is exactly how it felt for me. This will produce fear. And that is okay.

I had done very little ministry to the poor. I felt like the ministry I had done was not done well and because of that, I felt very insecure, unsure, and ill-equipped. So I went into student mode.

I started with asking more questions of people already in ministry or serving in this field before I assumed my answers. I got my hands on books related to the topic and read as much as I could from the experts. I sought out scripture in the Bible to back up what I was learning to make sure I was on the right path.

Then I found some local classes I could take to teach me about creating a non-profit and marketing a non-profit because those were two critical components in seeing my dream come to fruition. When I knew I had all those pieces in place, I sought out a conference for me to attend to obtain more extensive training. In doing so, I became equipped as a Christian Community Development practitioner.

Five: Stop Talking and Start Walking

When my husband and I were in our pre-dating stage we talked a lot on the phone, being that we lived 150 miles away from each other, it was our only way to connect regularly. Although we visited each other every now and again, they were for short periods of time, as we didn’t stay the night. It didn’t take long for our friends to notice there was more of a connection between us than just friendship. At one point, one of my husband’s friends said to him, “It’s time to stop the talky, talky, talky and do the walky, walky, walky.” I am pretty sure they were quoting out of an Adam Chandler movie, but the point was right. It was time for my husband to take our relationship to the next level and his friend was encouraging him to do so.

Sooner or later you have to decide to do something about your dream. You need to start sharing the dream with people. Start making appointments with people who could be involved with the dream or affected by the dream. Host an interest meeting. Post the idea on Facebook. Figure out what it will take to make the dream happen. More importantly, follow through. If you say, you are going to do something then do it. People are watching you, integrity is critical.

Six: One Day at a Time

From here you need to take these steps and apply them one day at a time. We just celebrated six years of this ministry; it’ll be seven years for me pursuing this dream in October. I employ these steps just as much today as I did back then.

I still need to trust and obey God each day recognizing that He is the dream-maker and I am a steward of this dream, which always leads me to a place of surrender – “Not my will Lord, let yours be done.”

It’s easy to let other’s opinions become more important than God’s. The only way I can accomplish this and the others I just mentioned is by getting into the Word of God every day. Otherwise, I get a bit lop-sided in my thinking.

I still need to be in student-mode. I am committed to being a life-long learner. Taking what I learned and acted on it. Professional development is just as significant now as it was back then. If I let comfort or status quo be my guide before we know it we’ll become outdated, inefficient, and eventually unsuccessful.

The Dream is Greater Than You

You see, when God lays a dream on your heart, it always affects more people than you. When your dream is from God, you have a responsibility to God and the people involved to follow through. There is a lot at stake.

Lives will either be transformed or not.

A change will occur or it won’t.

Communities will be altered or not.

When your dream is from God, you are responsible to God and the people involved to follow through. #Goddream

What will get you up in the morning is not your success, it is the success of God’s glory being made known. It’s no longer about you and your ego, but more about your willingness to serve in the capacity God has led you to with this dream.

You’ve got some big choices to make. You are the one God has selected. The time is now. What will you do?

Comment below: Share what your God dream is (because I love to hear about other people’s dreams) and share what you think your next steps might be and how you will start to see your God dream come to fruition.

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hope that is seen

Hope: How Badly Do You Want It?

Some things in life are just worth the fight. Hope is one of them. But what about when your circumstances dictate the exact opposite? Then what?

How badly do you want it? Would you go to battle to see the very thing you are hoping to come to fruition?

And if you are, what will you sacrifice to get there?

Sometimes, when, our future seems bleak, we need to choose to fight. We’ll need to be ready to get uncomfortable to face our fears, and then we need to dig in deep to decide we are not going to lose hope.

If only it were that easy.

Times when our beliefs and emotions vary, we need to find comfort in the tension. Enter hope.

Lori felt exactly like that when she went off to jail for the first time at age thirty-eight. She never thought her life would land up this way, but it did. All she had in front of her was a pile of her consequences.

Lor's Hope in Family
Lori (middle) with her daughter and husband.

Five years before this time, she had a wonderful husband, two children, and life was good. Despite being brought up by her grandparents as a toddler and then later, by two parents caught in the grips of alcoholism. Lori overcame the odds of what could have been in growing up in that environment, that was until her husband went to jail for a year, on a misdemeanor charge. While her husband sat in jail, Lori’s world turned upside down.

Instead of helping her while her husband was away, people took advantage of her. Within a year she was raped twice, and to numb her pain, she turned to drugs.

When her husband came home from prison he didn’t even recognize her. He said to her, “What happened to my wife?”

Her response was one born out of pain, “She died.”

This lifestyle then extended to her husband as life seemed to get worse and worse for them. As she sat in jail, with her future looking bleak, no family to support them, and little in the way of options. Her and her husband, also in jail at the time, decided that they would pray.

Sometimes when there seems to be no way out, the only place to look is up.

Romans 8:24, NIV says, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”

Lori and her husband soon learned that God could provide a way out. In their desperation, they realized they could not go back to the same place they came from or back to the same friends. They needed hope, and it came in the form of rehab.

God provided through family members who had earlier given up hope, but through their prayers, God changed their hearts.

Now, both Lori and her husband are fighting for what their future in rehab. In the midst of what felt like a hopeless situation, Lori and her husband have learned to put their faith in what God could accomplish, not in what they could.

In doing so, their lives changed significantly.

Lori enrolled in a 9-month residential rehabilitation program through Restoring Women Outreach. She also enrolled in our Pure Joy Goods job-training program. In her job-training program, here at The Community Place, Lori uses her gifts and talents to create beautiful pallet art. She takes classes, attends recovery meetings, and is mentored by one of our staff.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick

You can support Lori on her journey to hope, by purchasing a piece of pallet art. For every $10 you spend, it is the equivalent of one hour of job-training and support services.

So how about you? Are you like Lori, recognizing hope exists in the unseen, not in what you currently perceive? Or will you allow your emotions to dictate what you believe your future will hold?

If you want to fight for hope you are going to have to do the following:

  1. Submit your will to God’s, just like Lori did in jail.
  2. You’ll have to believe beyond your circumstance that your future includes hope, and not focus on how today feels. Your emotions do not dictate what God has in store for you.
  3. Cling to the scriptures. You will need them to be armed against the attacks of the enemy as he seeks to deter your faith.

Someday, Lori’s family will be restored, all because she fights daily for the hope of what will be, not what it is today.

Everyone struggles when the situation looks bleak. But we have a choice. How will you arm yourself in battle to obtain the hope you seek? Comment below and let’s encourage each other in our battle for the things we do not see.

 

Feeling Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

I cannot stand being uncomfortable.

I don’t like being too hot. I can’t stand it when I am so cold I am shivering.  New places can stretch me when I don’t know anyone because I feel awkward, shy, and vulnerable.

It’s the worst.

But sometimes being uncomfortable can be good for us. In fact, I’ve learned coupling the uncomfortable with obedience to God and found it’s the perfect intersection for God to produce a blessing.

Allow me a moment to tell you a story about a prophet and a woman. You can find these stories in 2 Kings 4:8-37, 8:1-6 .

There was a prophet in Israel named Elisha. He was known to be a man of God who did whatever God told him to do. A well off Shunammite woman (they never mention her name) and her husband, host him at their home for several meals, and then decided to offer him a place to stay. She redid a room in her home specifically for him. Elisha was very touched by the woman and asked if he could bless her for her goodness to him. She waved off his request and told him, she basically had all she needed. Elisha asks his servant to find out how he can bless her and his servant lets him know she wishes to have a son, even though her husband is old. But that is exactly what Elisha does. He tells her she will have a son, by this time next year. (v.16) She objects to his words and gets angry that he would even suggest such a thing.

Nine months later, she gives birth to a son. All is well until the son gets sick and dies in the father’s arms. They lay the son in a bed and she goes to get Elisha, to demand he do something about it, as he had promised her a son. She was quite upset Elisha’s promise did not come with a life-long guarantee. Long story short, (too late) he returns prays, asks God to revive her son, lays on top of him 3 times (okay, lets all admit that is a bit weird), and he lives.

But that is just the back-story. However, you needed to know that part to get to this part.

Years later there is a famine in the land. Elisha returns to warn her and tell her to move. And so, she does. She moves her family to a far off land for 7 years while her people go through the famine. When she is told it is time to return she does so and goes to the king to retrieve her land back. When she returned the King assigns her an official to assist and he blesses her by returning her home and land back to her.

Now if you are starting to scratch your head and think, “Dawn, you have lost it! What does any of this have to do with being uncomfortable?” Stick with me and we’ll get there in a moment.

Check out what this no named, only described by her ethnicity, woman does as we began our story. She opens up her home to a prophet. She does not know him; not really. She and her husband only had a few meals with him. But then she takes her hospitality a step further by setting up a room for him and giving it to him for as long as he needs it.

Is there anything in that scenario that makes you feel uncomfortable? Um…yeah!

Now I am not suggesting to you to bring strange men into your home, but it does beckon us to wonder, if her faithfulness in the uncomfortable here did not bring her the blessing later?

What we must remind ourselves of when we read these stories from the Bible is that the people who were living them out never knew what their outcomes would be. Our Shunammite friend had no idea she was going to receive the blessing of a child, one she never thought she could ever have…in fact, she was so sure of it that she couldn’t even dare to ask for fear for fear of his answer being “No.”

Can you relate to that? Can you relate to the desire of wanting something so bad and for so long you don’t even dare mention it anymore because it brings up all those feelings? All those emotions you may not be able to control should someone mention that “something”? That one thing you can’t have?

I get the sense that is exactly where our Shunammite woman was in this story. Willing to serve her God anyway she could, even to the point of making her home a refuge for a strange, man of God. Even if it meant getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.BluewithWhite Become uncomfortable emotionally

She was willing to become that uncomfortable in the physical…but God wanted to take her a bit further to become uncomfortable emotionally and spiritually with Him.

And when she obeyed look at what it yielded her—blessing—and in the form of a son, an heir, a first-born who not only carries on the name of the family but now will also carry on the testimony of faith in a God who moves us into the uncomfortable.

Then, when she was told to move away for seven years, in the face of famine, she had already learned the blessing of obedience, even when it is uncomfortable. In her case even if it meant moving her family away temporarily to the land of the Philistines. (2 Kings 8:1) In case the name Philistine isn’t familiar to you, the Philistines were the ones the Israelites battled in the famous story of David and Goliath. Goliath was a Philistine.

It doesn’t say why they chose to move to the land of their sworn enemy, but they did.

And God blessed them.

He blessed them with the return of their land and a king who honored them as his people by paying back all that they had lost. You see he did not have to do that. He did not have to return any of it to them. But it just so happens that the king was talking just that day to Elisha’s servant and he was telling him the story about a Shunammite woman whose son was brought back to life by Elisha.

And in walks the woman, seeking her land back.

“Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.” (2 Kings 8:3-6)

And just like that God does yet another miracle in her life. Out of an act of obedience, and an uncomfortable one at that.

I don’t love becoming uncomfortable. But I have learned over time through a seven hour move from Ohio, a house that wouldn’t sell up north for seven years, surgeries that have permanently disabled parts of my body, unemployment, and chronic health issues that regardless of how uncomfortable I am, if I am willing to obey God, I will see blessings. I have learned to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Because I know the blessing will come…sometimes financial, but more often spiritual blessings like new gained freedom, joy that surpasses understanding, learning mercy instead of justice, and being used to steward a vision bigger than I could have dreamed on my own.

Seek God, while you are uncomfortable. You just never know, when He’ll use it for your blessing.

What about you? Can you relate to the Shunammite woman in your desires? Have you seen times your willingness to be uncomfortable made it possible to see the blessing?

Want to hear more of Leslie’s story? Listen to her podcast. 

Share below and let’s talk more about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.