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Lose Yourself QuoteIt is quite popular these days to be on a search to find yourself. To pull away from friends, family and the rest of the world in pursuit of who you REALLY are.

I’ve talked with a few women lately who are in the throes of trying to find themselves. They are, in a sense,  looking for their purpose, searching for their identity, determined to no longer be what the world expects them to be.

This search sounds virtuous on the exterior. “Good for you,” we might say in response, trying to be a loving, supportive friend. But on the interior it is a futile quest.

We can find neither our purpose, nor our significance apart from our Creator and His purpose for us. We have been created to love God and enjoy Him forever.

I remember when I was trying to find myself  during a few short months of my college years  by living outside the lines, apart from the rules, wandering, rebelling.  It didn’t take me long to realize that without Christ in my life, I was SO lost…and apart from Him I am nothing (John 15:5).

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Admit it, there are parts of the Bible that are difficult to digest. Certain girlreadingbiblewords sting and can cause us to question our faith. I came across some of them as I was writing my book, When God Sees Your Tears.

In the Old Testament story of Hannah, I found staring at me, like a dagger, seven words about why Hannah could not conceive a child: because the Lord had closed her womb. Those seven words explain, but don’t really explain, Hannah’s misery. And within those seven disturbing words are four words that explain — or don’t really explain — the troubles we experience today, too: because the Lord had.

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3 questionsDo you find it difficult to say “no” when an opportunity comes your way or someone asks you to do something?

Well, you can’t live your dream if you’re continuing to rescue one situation after another. By knowing where your “yes” is, you can more easily say “no” to the things that might actually be distracting you from living the dream God has placed on your heart.

Here are three questions to ask, from When a Woman Discovers Her Dream, that will help you recognize what you’re being called to do, as opposed to something you’re trying to rescue:

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Dream_book_cover_FJ3LI remember feeling very discouraged that I would never be able to live my dream.

My husband, a young Bible college graduate, had just turned down a job in a nice area of Orange County, CA where he would’ve worked as an associate pastor for the son in law of my favorite Christian author. That was supposed to be my connection, my “open door” into the world of Christian publishing. There went my quick ticket to realizing my dream.

But God often does something completely different than we expect when it comes to opening the door to our dream.

My husband, Hugh, instead took a pastoral job at a tiny church in an out-of-the way community on the back side of the desert.

For six years I wrote and taught women’s Bible studies at this tiny little church and wondered, at times, if God had forgotten about my dream to write books.

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IMG_20140411_125453Do you feel you can never achieve your dream because of your past mistakes?

Whenever women tell me they don’t deserve to live their dream because of where they’ve been or what they’ve done, I love reminding them of something. The Dream Weaver, who put that dream into their hearts, is also a Master Artist — One who specializes in taking the corrupted canvases of our lives and repainting them into magnificent masterpieces.

And if you happen to be thinking, I’m more like God’s practice piece, than His masterpiece, consider this….

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IhaveaDreamDid you love doing something as a child until someone else, perhaps unintentionally, killed that dream in your heart? Were you at one time living your dream until a hurtful comment or negative situation made you walk away regretfully?

My daughter, Dana, was only 4 years old when another child who was a little older than her told her she didn’t color well. For several months, Little Dana apologized every time she picked up a crayon and began to color, convinced that she couldn’t stay within the lines and she would make a mess. Once we noticed how she was beating herself up because of one critical comment, we poured on the encouragement every time we saw her pick up a pen, pencil, or paintbrush. (We even bought her a bucket of sidewalk chalk and told her to boldly color up the neighborhood!) After more than a year of constant praise, Dana finally gained confidence once again in her ability to create.

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daretodreamWould you classify yourself as a dreamer? Or a realist? You can be both. But don’t cheat yourself out of dreaming.

I believe God has whispered a dream on every one of our hearts. And I believe that dream is closely connected to something we’ve always wanted to do. But so many of us are afraid to dream…or we don’t believe we have a right to.

The first step (in my “Ten-Step Process to Discovering Your Dream“) is: Admit You Have a Dream.

The second step is this: Give Yourself Permission to Dream.

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Some children come out of the womb, it seems, with big plans of what they want to accomplish with their lives. For most, however, it can be a mystery — a secret worth pulling out of them.

momgirlThat’s where you and I, as parents come in. You may have one child who’s a dreamer — — she knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. Yet, the other may take a while to develop creative abilities or academic interests. But by watching, and praying for wisdom to help cultivate that dream God has placed on their hearts, we can be there to be the wind beneath their wings when it’s time for them to fly.

In my newest book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I outline six steps to encourage your daughter to discover and pursue her dream (and I believe these steps can apply to our sons, as well):

1. Let Her Explore

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Do you ever wonder about your purpose, especially when life is not going according to plan?Purpose Sign

Jeannette emailed me recently and said:  I would like to know what is the purpose of my life when I’m disabled, single, can’t work, can’t drive and am 50 years old.

Our purpose in life can be a mystery if we are equating it with happiness or fulfillment, or thinking of it in terms of work, productivity, or a career.

Our purpose does not always equal “the life we’ve always wanted.” Nor does it automatically mean “happiness” or even “fulfillment.” However, there IS a sense of joy and fulfillment that comes from knowing we are living out God’s intended purpose for us.

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woman-rejoicingIf God called us to live safe, manageable lives, and to do only what we could in our own power, then we wouldn’t really need Him.

He often calls us to do something extraordinary that we couldn’t do without Him. Yet, sometimes we settle…for just what we think we can do. And our dreams stay small. Years ago my prayer became “Don’t let me limit myself to just what I think I can do. Expand my vision to include all that I know You can do.”

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If you struggle with wondering what your purpose or calling is, think about ways you can put God on display.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

That verse tells me that not only did God ordain long ago the good works you would live out, but He sees you as His masterpiece — His work of art — His unique expression of who He is. That means God wants to put us on display to the world so all can see what great things He can do through you and me.

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As you face a new year, can you confidently say you are living out God’s calling on your life? Or can you at least say you are moving toward living out the life God has designed for you?

Look around. Talk to other people. Read studies. Most people are stuck in a job or career they see as “drudgery,”  a dating relationship that has them going nowhere, or a course of life that they are not enjoying. They are surviving, but not thriving. But this can be the year you begin to thrive…as you look at the calling — and the dream — God has placed  on your life and you begin to live it out. read more

There are two kinds of women in this world: Those who have been hurt and continue to feel hurt,  and those who have been hurt and have surrendered it to God and now help others overcome their hurts, too. I know which woman I want to be — the one who is a blessing and encouragement to others, regardless of what I’ve been through. read more

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