Monday, November 24, 2008

Making Your Dream Catch Fire

Today, my guest bloggers are the mother/daughter writing team of Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Berry. Prepared to be doubly blessed!


Making Your Dream Catch Fire

“Keep using the gift God gave you.
Let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire.”
II Timothy 1:6



PhotobucketWe’re a mother-daughter writing team. Henceforth, to avoid confusion of any kind, we will refer to ourselves in the third person. We’ve been living our dream—or trying to at least—for the last nine years. We’ve noticed a few elements seem to be universally connected to dreaming.

Questioning—
Almost as soon as we identify our dream, we humans tend to start questioning it. Is this something I want just for myself, or is this from God? Doesn’t this conflict with another dream I have? What if nothing ever comes of this? Will I have wasted years doing something that’s unattainable?

We had a dream of being writers. But there’s also blogging, building websites, speaking, attending conferences, writing proposals, marketing plans, and building a platform. Do these things enable our dream, or become barriers to reaching it?

One of the most well known dreamers started dreaming when he was seventeen. A favorite child, he wore a special coat his dad had given him. You can find out more about Joseph by reading Genesis 37 and the next few chapters. He had a dream of being greater than his brothers and father. Though he had about as much tact as a pit bull with rabies, Joseph shared his dream with his family.

His brothers beat him. Because they were such nice guys, they decided to sell him instead of kill him. That’s when the questioning must have started for Joseph. Wait a minute, God. What can I do from this pit? Now as a slave? Now falsely accused of attempted rape? Stuck in prison?

Perseverance—
Several times Sherrie’s wanted to just give up and walk away from it all. There have been too many rejections. It seemed like nothing will ever happen. But then God shows her verses like Romans 15: 4,5. “The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope. Patience and encouragement come from God.”

Funny thing about perseverance: It takes time to know you have it because you must get discouraged first. We’ve found that persevering over the years has meant a lot of sacrifices. What have we given up? Christina condensed time spent on phone conversations, daily crosswords, reading for pleasure, and sleep. Sherrie misses all the card games!

Timing—
But God plants the desires because He has a certain result planned. Nothing’s wasted in His economy. (And He never enters a recession!)

Even when Joseph sat in prison, the Bible says God was with him. It took thirteen years to climb the ranks from slave of Potiphar to second in command of Eygpt. The famine arrived seven years later. By the time his brothers arrived, bowing and begging for food, twenty-two years had passed. That’s a long time to wait for a dream to come true!

Had his brothers thwarted God’s plans for Joseph? No. Joseph tells them, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” No matter what we think, people are not the ones who delay our dreams, but God. This means an editor’s rejection is God directing our lives, not another blow to our dream. Sherrie, during a time of discouragement, asked God if she was really supposed to write. He took her to Habakkuk 2:2-3. “Write down the vision; write it clearly on clay tablets so whoever reads it can run to tell others. It is not yet time for the message to come true, but that time is coming soon; the message will come true. It may seem like a long time, but be patient and wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not be delayed.”

Things we think of as setbacks are part of God’s training for the future. Joseph started as a young, inexperienced boy. As a shepherd, he gained experience with flocks and agriculture. As the head slave of a prominent man, he learned about household management and the social networking of Egypt. As an inmate of the king’s guard, he became familiar with the judicial and prison systems. All of those things added up to be excellent training for running a country.

By following his dream, by always being ready to be used by God, whether as a slave, a prisoner, or a powerful leader, he saved not only his family from starvation, but entire nations.

Who knows what God plans to do with your dream? Who knows what His timing will be?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Sherrie and Christina dream of having 1,000 subscribers to their infrequent, humorous newsletter. Help make this dream come true by signing up at www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx. To hear a greatly expanded and deeply profound version of this—if you live within a few hours of Portland, OR—ask them to speak at your next event.

The two women share a multigenerational country home with their husbands and Christina’s children. They also share one brain and were separated at birth.

A former nurse specializing in the care of Alzheimer patients, Sherrie now thrives on being a professional grandma of six. She loves to read and garden, is co-commander with her husband of their church’s AWANA program, and serves with him as an elder. They are former missionaries to Nigeria, West Africa and (obviously!) lived to tell about it.

Christina, a SAHM with two children of her own, enjoys doing foster care and leads a Sparks group in AWANA. She signed a contract this past month with Moody Publishers for a book she wrote on her own. The book, now titled A Familiar Stranger, is slated to hit bookstores in September 2009!

7 comments:

Sherrie Ashcraft said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for letting Christina and me visit with your readers today! That was just so nice of you. It's been a blessing to get to know you over the internet, and then actually get to see you in person at ACFW. Have a very happy Thanksgiving with your family, and best wishes with your new book!

Hugs, Sherrie

Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks, Sherrie. Meeting you and Christina has been such a blessing in my life. I'm loving following your writing adventures, too. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Christina Berry said...

Mom beat me! I also want to thank you for having us here. I hope this little snippet will encourage your readers to keep going after their dreams.

Jewel Sample said...

Thank you so much for the invitation to read "Making Your Dream Catch Fire." Wonderful wisdom here in never giving up on what God has planted in your heart.
Indeed sometimes it takes years to see it come to fruition. One of the things Joseph's life story has taught me is not only to be careful to whom one shares their dream, but waiting for the dream to become complete grows patience and maturity into the dreamer. If our dreams happen prematurely we won't be ready for the responibilities that come with the it.
Please write more about making your dream catch fire while facing the snags along the way!
Blessings to you,
Jewel
Jewelofabook.com

Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jewel. So glad you were touched by what Sherrie and Christina shared. They're pretty special ladies!

I've got lots of great authors, some published, some still pursuing the dream, lined up as guest bloggers throughout the next year. We're going to keep fanning the flames under our dreams!

Karen said...

Hi, Jennifer, Karen from Shoutlife here. Thanks for hosting Sherrie and Christina. I enjoyed getting to know them better and being encouraged by their message about Joseph and how his story relates to our dreams.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hey Karen,

Great to see you. Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!