Monday, January 18, 2016

I love to DREAM of what might be

For those who never had a waking moment of history class in the great USA, today marks a national holiday for American citizens: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  All states in the union celebrate MLK Day to honor and remember the civil rights activist who exercised first amendment rights to peacefully assemble, petition for change, speak his mind, and demonstrate his Christian faith.  Many honor his legacy with acts of community service on this federal holiday.  Some enjoy a day off from the usual work obligations and find ways to otherwise occupy their time.  I would hazard a guess that most everyone benefits in some way from a day that celebrates this great dreamer, even if it is just the results of equality and opportunity.

Because I am teaching 8th graders and our current unit is on American citizenship, the timing aligned quite nicely to spend time talking about Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., big (some would say impossible) dreams, characteristics of good citizenship, and the like.  Students had the opportunity to share about dreams they've had in the past (being chased, falling off a mountain, even some crazier one about a lemur and pet dinosaur fighting over fried chicken).  Students were then given the chance to write about dreams they have for the future, for themselves, their community and their world.  I can still hear the groaning that their Civics teacher went all English teacher on them with an expectation to write in complete sentences, but they did it just the same.  For full credit, they had to add some color and an illustration to their finished product.  I think the results make for nice classroom decorations and have enjoyed our "walk through the clouds" and learning what dreams are made of when you've got infinite possibilities in front of you.  Oh, to be young again!

My students aren't alone in dreaming of the future though.  I admit to being a dreamer.  I don't sleep long enough to have many dreams at night, but in my waking hours, I quite routinely dream and pray about what might be in the days, months, and years ahead.  What about you?  Do you keep a dream journal?  Are you a list-maker who focuses on the future possibilities and keeps documentation of your plans?  In various seasons of my own life, I've done both.  The recurring dream about wrecking on the Burkeville Road after being bitten by a spider only to land in the Nottoway River and have a water snake slithering past while I'm trapped in my submerged vehicle with certain VFR members standing on the hill ready to cut off my clothes with trauma shears is probably why I don't miss sleep (and dreams) all that much.  HA!  I much prefer the plans of my dream job as school administrator (superintendent some day in fact), losing weight to be a healthier and more athletic version of me again, finding someone worth my time, energy and heart to marry and perhaps even have a family with, and summer vacations at a custom-built family beach house.

Dreams don't come true with wishful thinking and hoping though.  Actions speak louder than words, even if the words aren't spoken as passionately or eloquently as MLK when he championed the civil rights cause.  So if I want to be that respected superintendent who leads a school division to success, I have to be the classroom teacher who guides and directs students to achievement in its many forms, collaborate with colleagues, build professional networks and community coalitions, etc.  If I want to be a "Skinny Minny," I may just have to accept that dream is unrealistic and instead focus on wellness by eating more so my body doesn't think it's starving and moving more each day whether I want to workout or not.  If I want to find lasting love, I owe it to myself to love Alissa first and foremost and become the woman God wants me to be as an individual before I can become somebody's better (other) half.  And if I want summer vacations at a family beach house, I might have to play the lottery again or take on additional part-time jobs to save the extra income for a future property purchase.  Or that one might just be the pie in the sky dream, but it's fun to imagine what might be.

I end this blog with a final phrase often told me by my dearly departed friend and prayer partner, Bobby King.  He reminded me daily that "prayer changes things."  And he also said that sometimes the thing that changed is US and our response, not the actual situation itself.  Bobby helped me and I try to help others to pay it forward.  The artwork on my fireplace mantle is my visual reminder each day and I've seen how prayer changes things and people, myself included.  Wishing and hoping, planning and dreaming, but praying is staying in touch with God who has plans that are better than any we could imagine anyways.  Check out my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11-13 for a well-worded reminder that even a planner like myself needs to hear quite often.

So how about it?  Care to share your dreams?  Want to chase them together?  I'd love to support and encourage you in your journey through this thing called life and welcome your advice and support in return.  Be blessed, all you who dare to dream big!

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