The Advice I am Tired of Receiving! Dreams, part 2

Welcome  I started my discussion of “dreams” yesterday with Earthly Goals or Heavenly Treasures.  After God inspired me on multiple occasions to read Matthew 6:19-21, I finally figured out that my earthly treasure had less to do with money and more to do with my obsession about geographical location and the move that I thought would bring me happiness.  I also realized that said-obsession was causing me to be less spiritual with my actions and words.  Today I’m going to address the second part of my struggle in having earthly goals.  It involves frequently heard advice and the behaviors it can lead to.  I am so glad you are joining me again today.

graphic found on Pinterest

Food For Thought  That quote sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  I pinned this to my “Mental Health” board on Pinterest, telling myself that I was doing the right thing by pushing for a big move.  [3/1/18 Update: I no longer have a “Mental Health board” and no longer have this quote on Pinterest]  It would be worth all of the risks if I could just be happy.  There are those who say, “Whatever it is you want, you have to go out and get it.”  “You’ll never get what you want if you don’t TAKE it.”  “Do whatever it takes to get what you want that will make you happy.”  And then there’s the Sheryl Crow song from the 90’s…If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.  So that makes it okay for me to do what I want, without considering the feelings of those around me, right?  After all, there are things I want to accomplish with my time on earth.  I have dreams and goals.  I want adventures and experiences.  And of course, we all want to be happy, right?  So what is wrong with all of this “advice” that seems to flood my social media accounts and literature every day?  I will answer the question with a question.  Where is the focus in every one of these statements?

All of this advice that says “Go out and get whatever it is that you want,” has a very singular focus.  The focus is on myself…my wants, my needs, my happiness.  All of this advice has completely taken God, and even our fellow mankind, out of the equation.  It boldly says, “I don’t care what you want or need, I’m busy taking care of my own happiness.”  This is very tricky ground to navigate.  I don’t think God wants us to be miserable and unhappy.  I think it’s fine to set goals and seek to better yourself and whatever your current situation may be.  But in the quest for my happiness and achieving my dreams, have I hindered someone else?  Has achieving these dreams turned me into a self-centered, selfish, egotistical maniac?  Okay, maniac may be a bit extreme, but our behaviors can certainly turn ugly when we have our sole focus on achieving that next earthly goal or desire.

Yesterday I used the example of my obsession with moving to the Tennessee mountains.  I have noticed recently that my dream has made me very selfish.  In my drive to get what I wanted to make me happy, I was down-playing my daughter’s anxiety and wishes to not move.  I heard her say repeatedly, “But, Mom, I like it here.”  I would laugh and say, “That’s just because you haven’t seen how amazing it is.”  My husband, for once, kept the practical mindset, reminding me about things like jobs, our mortgage that’s far from paid, the intensive efforts that would be needed to get our house ready to sell, possible family needs, and that awful but true advice that we’ll still have problems if we move to the mountains.  I was constantly looking for arguments to counter his logical statements.  That’s the thing about being in a family…you are no longer an independent body and soul, or you shouldn’t be.  Big decisions affect all of us.  I cannot say, “Yes, but this is what I want, so you all need to do what I want.”  It’s one thing to talk about doing this some day and casually talking about real estate and properties, but every time my husband would attempt to partake in these conversations, I would end up getting all emotional and frustrated, not understanding why we couldn’t make this happen RIGHT NOW, or at the very least, soon enough to make real plans.  Basically, I ended up with a really ugly attitude and not lifting up my husband as a wife should do.  My selfish actions made him feel bad about himself and the type of provider is he.  I promise you, in reality, I have an EXCELLENT husband who is a fantastic provider and supporter for me and our daughter.  So my actions and attitude were completely unfair and shameful.

So what about all of those quotes and memes going around telling us to go out and get whatever it is we want?  For me personally, they lead to some very selfish behaviors.  Let’s try this instead:  When we have a goal, keep it in perspective.  Is it in line with God’s plan for me?  Pray about it.  Ask those around you, with their unconditional love and trust, to help you keep your perspective.  Write your goal in your journal and pray about it some more.  Then leave it alone for awhile.  That’s right…I am telling myself to stop OBSESSING!  Go back and check on your goal, and maybe even some action steps, and then pray some more.  If we are praying for our goals and dreams and IT IS in line with God’s Will, it will come to be, in His time, not ours.  And if it’s not in God’s plans for us…well we may just have to pray that God remove it from our minds.  This may require some “dangerous prayers” and commitments on our part.  I have recently made this prayer in my life.  It may make me uncomfortable for a time, or even sad, but the important thing is to remove my selfish desires so I can focus solely on God’s vision for my life and the people I serve around me.

Today’s Prayer  My Dear Heavenly Father, I know there have been so many times when my personal wishes and desires seem to overshadow the good You provide for me and the good plans You are making for me.  God, as I am trusting You, in complete faith, with every part of my life in 2018, I am asking that if there are any desires, dreams, or goals that I have that do not align with Your Will, please remove them from my heart and mind so that I will not lose my Christian focus.  I have faith that You will bring me to the places, people, and things I need in my life.  In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

My two favorite types of Bible study: intentional study-looking for specific answers and guidance AND divinely inspired study allowing God to lead me to what I need

Today’s Scriptures  I have talked about intentional Bible study in the past.  I have noticed in the past year, as I have become a lot more intentional and purposeful in my daily time with God, is He always brings me to the words I need most.  I have said it before, I don’t believe in coincidences.  I believe it was with divine purpose that I was brought to Romans 8:18-30 for my Faithful February devotional time this morning.  I especially found the words in verses 24-27 to apply to this idea of dreams and goals.  I noticed the latter words of 24 and the great reminder in verse 25: …Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  Wow, what a great reminder for me…I can hope for things, but I need to wait patiently for God’s timing.

I also felt verse 26-27 speak to my dangerous prayer for God to remove things from my heart and mind that may be hindering my walk as a Christian: …the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit…  As my brain, and heart, began wrapping around these lessons God has brought to me, I have spent a lot of time praying for the Spirit to intercede with my prayers.  Offering up prayers, knowing the desires of my heart, but to express that I want what God wants for me, above all else.  This is a completely different outlook for my prayer life.  It will take some growth and practice and lots of FAITH.

Today’s Recipe  Yes, I get tired of people telling me to just go out and get whatever I want, like it’s no big deal if I neglect the needs of my family in the process.  Then there are the times when I’m just plain tired…and I still can’t neglect the needs of my family…like laundry…and lunch packing…and dinner.  But no worries!  I have a stash of go-to dinners that are easy, comforting, and delicious.  This Angel Hair Pasta with Four Cheese Garlic Cream Sauce is one of them.  It’s ready in under 30 minutes.  The title makes the dinner sound complicated, but no!  Serve with a bagged salad kit from the supermarket and dinner accomplished!

4 cheese garlic angel hair pasta
What could be better…pasta…cheese…garlic? Very rich and creamy. Feels like a fancy meal, but a great weeknight dinner!

Angel Hair Pasta with Four Cheese Garlic Cream Sauce (this makes a BIG pot of pasta…you can feed a crowd for dinner, or have plenty for left-overs, and yes, it’s still good!)

  • 1 lb. Angel Hair pasta (these thin spaghetti-strand noodles will cook super fast)
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2-3 TBS jarred minced garlic (go heavier if you really like garlic, lighter if it’s not your thing)
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup Colby jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pkg. salad mix/kit

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil-this will be the most time-consuming step!  While waiting for the water to boil, get the salad ready and slice the green onions.  Once water is boiling drop in spaghetti, give a stir and reduce heat to medium.  Continue cooking 5-6 minutes.  Remove pot from stove, but don’t drain-this will allow the pasta to finish cooking.  In second pot melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions, stirring and cooking until golden and fragrant.  Stir in cream cheese, melting most of it.  Add remaining cheeses and cream, stirring constantly.  The sauce will be very thick, but will loosen up as the pasta is added.  Drain most of the water from the pasta-all but about a half cup.  Ladle pasta into cheese sauce, allowing small amounts of the pasta water to thin the sauce.  Mix just until pasta is thoroughly coated with the cheese and garlic sauce.  Ladle into bowls and top with fresh cracked pepper, serving alongside the salad.