Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Born to Dream

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 8 of The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)

In Chapter 8, You Were Born For This, Bruce Wilkinson takes us back to the beginning of Ordinary's journey, to where he identified what his Big Dream is. First, he asserts that everyone has a Big Dream. Bruce then shares about a Hollywood producer that believes that very few are "born dreamers" and a waitress named Sonja whose big dream is to become a nurse. In a short while, he is able to encourage Sonja that it is indeed possible to pursue and achieve her Big Dream. He also gives great examples of how Moses needed help from God as his Dream Coach to persevere in his Dream to be a deliverer and how the continuing ministry of Mother Teresa in Calcutta began as the Dream of a girl named Agnes Bojaxhiu of Albania.

Then comes the difficult part (at least for me)...identifying our own Big Dream. I think I am at the point in my life where I feel like my entire focus is on taking care of and meeting the needs of my family, and honestly had no idea of where my Big Dream for my life was. Truly this alone is an enormous undertaking and any success in this endeavor is an incredible victory to me. Since he has known me for over 15 years and is someone whose opinion I value, I decided to ask my husband Jeff one of the questions that Bruce suggested. When I asked him, "What is it that you think I was born to do?", I got a very interesting response. He said that he thinks that I was born to help people by encouraging and comforting them. He also said that I have a gift of understanding the point of view of those that are suffering. (His words, not mine)

Backtracking through my life there were always alot of instances where I was surrounded by/took care of young children and I did quite a bit of volunteer work through high school and college. I studied psychology and special education. Prior to having children I actually worked with autistic preschoolers. At that time I believed that my Big Dream was to help other people's children, I had no idea that I'd have a special needs child of my own. Now I feel like my Big Dream is twofold; First, to help my son, Matthew to reach his greatest potential health and development-wise and second, to be as helpful as possible to other mothers who are in the same boat. There is this great spirit of generosity among autism moms and I am truly honored to help someone with what I have learned, just as so many have helped and still help me.

On page 80, Bruce Wilkinson states, "Your Dream may not look quite the same as it did years ago. But the essence of the Dream-the tug of the longing you feel to do what God made you to do-is still there." This was very helpful for me. It looked like the desire/gifting that God placed in my heart was to bring hope, encouragement, love and help to others. Over time, it just changed shape as to what my specific role is in this. I've determined that the closer I draw to God and let Him lead me (Him first, me second), the more I will grow and can become better at what it is He wants me to do. To be honest, I am so very human and can be very intimidated by the thought that God has a big purpose for my life, and so taking it one step at a time is really the best approach for me. I can see that there are areas where God needs to help me grow as a person, not just in my abilities and I need His help to make this happen every day.

I hope that you were able to identify what your Big Dream is. On pages 81-82, Bruce offers these questions to help you identify your Big Dream:

What have you always been good at?
What needs do you care about most?
Who do you admire most?
What makes you feel most fulfilled?
What do you love to do most?
What have you felt called to do?

Remember, whatever your Big Dream is, you were born to do it. God created you for a very specific and special purpose. Even if you feel like a Nobody, you are already a Somebody very special to God. Please share your thoughts on this chapter, we'd love to hear about your Big Dream. We can all encourage and support eachother as we press on together!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for every mother that is a part of this study. Thank you for the Big Dream that you placed in each of our hearts. Help us as we seek and uncover what our Big Dream is. Keep us mindful that you created each of us with a special purpose in mind so that we may trust in the unique gifts and talents that you gave us. Give us the faith and hope to continue in difficulty and a spirit of community as we encourage eachother along the way. We ask this in Your name. Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ordinary & His Big Dream

In Chapters 1 through 7 of The Dream Giver, Bruce Wilkinson gives us an incredible parable about a man named Ordinary and his Big Dream.

Brief summary....

Ordinary lived in the Land of Familiar. Ordinary was a Nobody until one day the Dream Giver showed him his Big Dream. Ordinary was very excited to share his Big Dream with important people in his life, like Best Friend, Father and Mother. However, some people tried to convince him it just can't happen. This didn't stop Ordinary. He set out to find his Big Dream. It was difficult for Ordinary to leave his Comfort Zone but if he didn't then he would have to give up on his Big Dream. He also encountered the Invisible Wall of Fear and he knew he had to break through this to reach his Big Dream. He knew he had to take courage and move on towards his dream. Then in Chapter 3, Ordinary Meets Bullies in the Borderland. He thought for sure they would be Bullies that he didn't know. They ended up being his Mother, Best Friend and Uncle. All three of these Nobodies did everything they could to try to persuade Ordinary not to follow his Big Dream. That's when Champion, an old friend from Familiar who use to be a Nobody, showed up to encourage him. He explained to Ordinary that it's only natural for his Mother, Best Friend and Uncle to try and stop him. When Ordinary left to follow his Big Dream, it made his "Bullies" feel uncomfortable in the Land of Familiar. Champion encourages Ordinary to move on. At this point, Ordinary felt like he was about to reach his dream. But to his dismay, he entered into the Wasteland. He was in the Wasteland for days. He started to run out of food and water. He called out to the Dream Giver but didn't get any answer. He was finally able to find small drops of water and some fruit. Ordinary couldn't find his way out of the Wasteland and started to doubt the Dream Giver. That's when he met Faith. Faith helped Ordinary see that the Dream Giver was with him all this time, even though he couldn't see Him. Faith also taught Ordinary how to trust the Dream Giver. Ordinary moves out of the Wasteland. He next discovers the Dream Giver's sanctuary. Here, the Dream Giver was able to shine his light through Ordinary. This is when Ordinary was able to see all of the darkness that's inside of himself. Later on in the Sanctuary, The Dream Giver then asks Ordinary to give him his Big Dream. At this point, Ordinary was not ready to give up his dream. He'd been through so much. Ordinary had a choice. He could either give his dream back to the Dream Giver or he could keep it. He knew that if he kept his dream, it wouldn't please the Dream Giver and this was too upsetting for Ordinary. That's when Ordinary realized that it's not the Big Dream that he can't live without, it's the Dream Giver. So he surrendered his dream. The Dream Giver then gives Ordinary his dream back. He does this because he knew that Ordinary would now serve him through his Big Dream. Ordinary then reached the Valley of the Giants. Here he met a someone who shared the same dream as him and helped Ordinary reach his dream. Next he met the Giants. The first Giant he met was the Commander. The Commander helped Ordinary see how he needed to fight the Giants. He shared with him that everything the Dream Giver has been teaching since he left Familiar Ordinary will use as his weapons against the Giants. This is when Ordinary realized that he doesn't need actually weapons to fight these Giants. He needs the Dream Giver. Finally, Ordinary arrived in the Land of Promise. As he walked inside the Anybodies city gates, Anybodies started thanking him for coming and helping them. Ordinary saw how in need the Anybodies were. They begged Ordinary to stay with them. He told them he would stay but only for a short time. One day, when Ordinary was walking through the City of Anybodies, the Dream Giver walked beside him and helped him see that his Big Dream is here. Ordinary realized that his Big Dream was right in front of him. Ordinary didn't realize until that moment that it wasn't so much his Big Dream as much it was what his Big Dream would accomplish. Ordinary then became so devoted to the Dream Giver. The Dream Giver helped him go further, higher and helped him see that one day this will all become Familiar again and he would have to pursue a Bigger Dream. Ordinary was very excited about this because he knew the Dream Giver would be with him. Bruce Wilkinson closes this parable with a letter that Ordinary writes to his Father encouraging him to follow his dream. That's it's never too late.
(At this point, I would like to open up a discussion between all of us. Please join in by answering one, some or all of the questions below in the Comment Section. We would also like to encourage you to add some of your own questions. Either something you don't understand or maybe a part of the parable that we didn't include above that you felt was important to you. This is a great way for us to encourage and lean on each other through this study!)

1. Who do you think is the Dream Giver?

2. Would it have been easier or harder for you to the leave the Land of Familiar if you were Ordinary?

3. Why do you think the Bullies really wanted to keep Ordinary from following his dream?

4. When Ordinary was in the Wasteland, why do think it was so hard for him to see the Dream Giver there with him after he found water and fruit?

5. Why didn't Ordinary follow the Dreamers who were returning to the Land of Familiar?

6. What do you think Ordinary learned after he gave his dream back to the Dream Giver? (After he gave it back but before the Dream Giver returned it to him.)

7. Why do you think the Commander told Ordinary that unbelief is more dangerous than the Giants?

8. Why did Ordinary write on the Warrior's headstone "Here lies a Mighty Warrior. She finished her dream." ?

9. Why did the Dream Giver want Ordinary to lay down his weapons?

10. What do you think Ordinary's Big Dream was?

Please help us stay in the parable of Ordinary while answering these questions. The second half of the book, Bruce Wilkinson uses to help us find our Big Dream and to help us take these ideas out of this wonderful parable and pertain it to our lives.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Parable of Ordinary

The Dream Giver written by Bruce Wilkinson is a book that encourages you to follow your destiny. The book is divided into two parts. The first part is a parable. In the second part of the book, Bruce Wilkinson describes the meaning of these parables and how we can put this in to play in our own lives. In Part 2 of the Dream Giver, Bruce will help guide us in finding our dreams. It is important that before we start applying this parable to our lives, we read the entire parable. Therefore, we encourage you to spend the next week reading the first part of the book. (Through the end of Chapter 7.) On February 17th, we will begin our journey of finding and following our dreams.

In the meantime, if you have any prayer requests please let us know. We'd be honored to pray for you in any thing that may be going on in your lives. Be sure to check the prayer request daily to join us in prayer for others as well.

We're very excited to start this study with you. We are disappointed that we can not start it today. However, we all feel it's important for us to read the entire parable first. It's a really cute story with wonderful meanings for our lives as moms of children with autism.