Years ago I went to the dollar store, one of my favorite places next to Goodwill and decided to take a quick look at their DVD’s. I know that most of us would agree that the dollar store is not the best place to grab a well done film, the shelves are usually full of movies that failed to make it big, are older than dirt, or the most boring documentaries. This time, however, a title caught my eye and made me get excited as I quickly grabbed it, it was called, "Paper Dream". This was a film that just weeks earlier, I had seen the trailer for and wanted to see it so for a dollar I thought I couldn't go wrong. It turns out that this would be one of the best dollars I ever spent.
I have to admit that I watched that film as soon as I could and it did not disappoint, in fact I almost or I think I did cry at the end because the message was so powerful and unexpected. Who knew that a short, forty- five, low-budget film could make such an impact. I want to share some, okay, most of the film with you but I promise I won't spoil the ending for you.
A Little Girl's Dream
The film opens with a young girl standing in front of her class holding a piece of paper on which she had drawn, in simple childish art, what she wanted to be when she grew up. There was a little house, a fence, a man and a woman surrounded by three children. The girl proudly announces that when she grows up she wants to be a wife, a mother, and live in a beautiful house. As she shares her paper dream with the class, the scene shifts to show us the real version of a grown woman, her husband, a lovely home in the background and three children. Gears shift again as the camera pulls back and you see a van getting ready to pull out of the driveway and hear the conversation between the woman and the another woman in the passenger seat as they talk about her babysitting the children. You see, the children the woman held were not hers but her sisters. She was happy to babysit her nieces and nephews again, but underneath her smile there was the familiar look of one whose dream was still that, a mere dream.
A Chance to Dream
I have to say that was a pretty startling opening to the movie, I wasn't quite prepared for it to take that direction but it was also good. You soon learn that Christy, the little girl all grown up, and her husband Matt, have not been able to have children though try as they might. They have sought help through various doctors but nothing has changed, they are still without a child and without answers. Christy struggles with the fact that her paper dream, one that is good, has yet to be completely realized.
At this point in the story Christy also finds out that her sister is expecting her fourth child, not the easiest news in the world, in fact her sister hesitated to tell her. In the end, however, like a good sister, Christy still rejoices with her sister. Matt and Christy decide that adoption is something they both want to pursue and they begin their journey nervous but excited at the possibilities. After going through all the necessary procedures, they finally receive the news that there is a young girl who has chosen them to be the parents of her child who is due in about five months. They go home ecstatic and begin the wonderful task of preparing their home to receive their blessing.
Books are bought and read on the topic of newborns. Clothes, toys, furniture, and necessities are purchased. Soon the nursery is completely decorated in all things blue and sports since they had just learned their baby was a boy, meaning they could officially settle on a name, Levi. To their great joy, they were given a copy of his ultrasound picture, a perfect profile shot of their little love. Shortly after they receive a call from the adoption agency asking them to come by the office. When they arrive they are informed as gently as possible that the mother had chosen another option for her child, though not uttered, it is implied that she chose to have an abortion instead. Your heart breaks for this young couple as they go home in hurting and stunned silence.
Days later Christy, in near anger cries out Why? A question many of us have asked during times of difficulty. Why would God allow this to happen? Why should someone who doesn’t want a child be given one while someone who desperately wants one more than anything else be denied? Her husband bravely makes the comment, "Maybe that’s your problem." Christy doesn't understand his statement so he asks if she remembers how they first met? He was pulling into the church parking lot and she was outside doing craft time with some children and covered in purple paint. He shares that he fell in love with that purple girl because he saw the joy and passion she had teaching those young children about God and His Word. Her husband then says something that was both powerful and stunning, "I miss that", meaning the girl who loved God more than anything else.
Later when Christy sees that Matt still has the ultrasound picture of little Levi tucked inside his Bible, she asks that while they know God is good and in control how can he look at it and believe. His response was amazing "How can you not, I don’t know why this had to happen but it shouldn’t change anything. He is still God” At that climatic moment, their phone goes off and they learn that Christy’s brother in law Steve, married to her very pregnant sister, was in an accident. They rush to the hospital to find that he died. Christy rushes to find her sister who is sitting on the floor of the hospital bathroom and she utters the same word Christy had earlier, "Why?".
As she hears her sister utter her own thoughts out loud, she comes to a moving conclusion, one that touched me greatly by the simplicity of that message. "God doesn’t own us an explanation about anything He’s God. He never promised us we’d get the life we always wanted but He does promise to be with us. No matter what happens."
At the funeral, after Steve has been buried, Christy notices her niece sitting on a nearby bench. She walks over and sees that she has drawn a picture and pays her a compliment. Her niece says that she misses her dad and her Aunt offers her some profound words of wisdom. “Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we pictured it, so we have to give our picture over to God and let Him draw us a new one.” The little girl asks how they can know He is going to draw something good. To which Christy responds, "Because God is good. I don’t know why He lets bad things happen but I know He loves us and He will never leave us. I guess we just have to trust Him."
Remember, I said I wouldn't spoil the film for you but if you want to watch it, I was able to find a link to a place where you can watch it for free.
What is your Paper Dream?
Every one of us had a dream, a picture, of what our life would be and I think I can safely say most of us are living a life far from the one we dreamed. When a young Christy shared her paper dream with her class, I immediately related because that was me. When I was little, people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I always said a wife and a mother. I longed to have a family of my own, to care for and nurture, and love. To make memories in the kitchen baking cookies, to have adventures in the backyard, and tuck my children in at night after reading them a bedtime story, my shelves are full of children’s books. But that is not my life. I want to be fully transparent with you because I believe there is someone out there who needs me to be, it’s hard. To have lived all your life holding on to that paper dream, one that is a good one, and see others receive what you have longed for is not easy.
My life, though filled with many blessings, is not at all what I pictured when I was a little girl. I had a deep longing to see my paper dream fulfilled and wanted it more than anything else which is one reason Matt's words struck me so deep. More than anything else. Those words pierced my soul because it was the hard truth of what I had allowed that paper dream to become and I had to ask myself some difficult questions.
I believe this story is such a beautiful illustration, which is one of the reasons it has stayed with me all these years. I a little side note that I would like to point out, the fact that Christy said God would make us a new one. This grabbed my attention as well because many of us feel as if our paper dreams are gone because of the many mistakes we have made, that we blew our chance at having such a dream. I know that I have many regrets of choices I made, but I also know a wonderful truth about my God. He is One who loves to give second chances. He is the One who can restore and make all things new, all you have to do is give Him your picture. This is another truth about God, He will never demand or rip anything from your hand, He just patiently waits until we are ready to let go, to come to Him and release whats in our hands so He can fill it with something new. Most times, we are like the little girl, afraid to let go of our drawing out of fear that His will not be good, but remember, He is good, that is Who He is and He cannot change. We can completely trust Him and release our dreams knowing that His are so much better than any we could draw.
What are you going to do?
We have a choice to make, to hold onto our dreams even as we watch the chance for them to come true slip away or we can let go and place them in the hands of a loving God. Let me say that I understand this is not as easy as it sounds, we are emotionally invested in our paper dream. Tears are to be expected not ones of anger or bitterness but grief and a sense of loss will be felt, so let them fall. For the single girl who needs to release her paper dream of being married, its okay to cry. For the wife who needs to release her paper dream of having children, its okay to cry. For the woman who lost her parent, spouse, or child, its okay to cry. Tears are a gift, they are part of the process of letting go and are necessary. I'm afraid that the idea of being a strong woman has been pounded into us so much that we feel bad when we cry, that it is a sign of weakness, but that is another lie. Please, don’t be afraid to cry.
I make to make a little point, that while tears are a step in the process they are not a state to reside in. Take the time to cry, just be sure you don't stay there. Some other helpful tools can be:
I would like to challenge us, myself included, to examine our hearts and see if there is anything there that has taken first place over God. Remember that we can trust God with our everything including our dreams because His are always better. How can we be sure? Because He is good. He is our Heavenly Father and incapable of being anything but good. His intentions are always for good and we can trust Him one hundred precent.
It is not an easy thing to do, trust me, I know from experience but the rewards are a heart that is filled with a peace that passes all understanding because it knows all is well. Don’t ever be afraid to give your paper dreams to God, He loves you more than anyone else and knows you like no one else which means He understands your needs. Sometimes when we finally let go of our paper dreams God draws us a new one that looks similar to the old one, I have heard countless stories of just such an incident. Sometimes, though, He doesn’t and that is okay because He is good, I pray you don’t ever forget that truth, God is always good, believe it and rest in it.
The daughters of Lot, some may wonder what lessons these two girls can teach us since their story is so small in Genesis but they would actually play a significant part in history and tie into one of my favorite characters in the Bible.
Their story, like most children, begins with their parents choice of direction. Let me just say that it is usually the parents who build the foundation of their children’s life, they give them the building blocks for their future. Now it is true that children can choose to go a different path, and there are multiple examples in the Bible and in history of children who chose to be different from their parents but more often than not, what parents plant in their children will be what their children grow in the end. This is why it is so important that parents plant good seeds in their children and watch over them as they grow and teach them to know God while they are young.
A fateful decision
Lot chose to move his whole family to Sodom unaware of the tragedy that would unfold because of this decision. We don’t know how many years have gone by but now some of his daughters are married and they all have settled into a routine life in the wicked city of Sodom. God’s judgment has been issued and the sentence passed, both Sodom and Gomorah would cease to exist. In His great mercy, God sends two angels to fetch out Lot and his family. Before any plans can be made, all the men, both young and old, have gathered around Lot’s home and demand these strangers be brought out to them and their intentions are not to merely introduce themselves with a friendly handshake.
In this culture, when a guest has been welcomed into your home, it is the duty of the host to protect them from harm. In keeping with this, Lot goes out to reason with these men and makes an offering that has horrified many to this day. He tells the men to not do this great wickedness but instead to take his two daughters that have not known man. Lot specifically tells the men, “do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing:” Gen 19:8 That is a hard verse for anyone to read but what about the two girls inside? Those words were in reference to them, and put their lives at risk. I don’t even want to think about how frightened they must have felt to hear their own father offer to throw them out to a mob of perverse men who didn’t even know what the word “honor” meant.
Failure to protect
Lot failed as a father to protect his daughters, the fear and sting of abandonment must have been felt by both of them. What is interesting is that, when a man had physically wronged a woman, it was the father who demanded it be righted either through marriage or money. Yet here was Lot offering his daughters without hesitation into something far worse and there was even the possibility that it could have been fatal. If you remember this is not the only time something like this takes place, a concubine in the book of Judges was also offered to an angry mob and she died, so this was a dangerous offer that Lot made.
Even though Lot failed to give his daughters the protection they needed, God did not. The two heavenly messengers intervened and struck the men with blindness preventing anything further from taking place. This is the first truth I want to give you today, there will be many times when those who should have protected us will fail in their responsibility. I know there are countless daughters who have experienced the hurt of abandonment, and that hurt goes deep. There may be some of you right now that are still struggling to heal from that hurt but can I tell you something? There is One who has never abandoned you. In fact He has been looking for you, He wants to wrap His arms around you, take away the hurt and give you the healing you need. God sent His only Son, to die for you, to pay the price of your sin so that you could have eternal life and have a personal relationship with Him. He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us and when God promises something, we can bank on it. If you want to know more about how you can know God follow this link, I promise you will find all the answers you need.
Just the beginning
As they leave the city that is doomed for destruction their mother makes the fateful decision to look back and she turns into a pillar of salt. Now motherless they follow their father to their new home, a cave on a mountain. Lot was afraid to live in the nearby city of Zoar so he settled for a dank cave that was no doubt as gloomy as the atmosphere between the residents. Things go from bad to worse as the older daughter has an idea, she believes that this is the end, there is no hope that either of them will get married since, as she puts it, “there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:” Gen 19:31. Now does this statement sound at all familiar to you? Well, it might since many girls have uttered something very similar...I will never get a husband, there is no one left, Cinderella took the last good man.” It can be easy to look around and say that but that is limiting God. His hand is not short but for these girls who were sitting in a damp cave, I am sure they felt they were the only ones left on earth.
Sadly they concoct a plan that would have lasting consequences and confrontations in the years to come. They get their father drunk, so drunk that he doesn’t realize what takes place and the following night it happens again. Both girls got exactly what they wanted, each bore a son, the oldest named hers Moab, father of the Moabites and the younger Benammi, father of the Ammonites. These names may ring a bell since they will become enemies of their cousin Isaac’s descendants. Something interesting to note is the fact that some of Israel's enemies, Ishmael, Moab and Ammon, were all born out of sin. Sin usually has a far reaching consequence and touches more than just ourselves. This is why it is so important to guard against sin, it will always cost you more than you realize.
Is a virgin the same as not knowing a man?
Now I also want to unpack something else about these girls, remember when Lot offered his two daughters to the lustful mob of men? He said that they had not known man, this term, “know” has the idea of seeing, as if to say that these girls did not know man by seeing them in an intimate way, or by experience. They did not know men since they had not been with them. When I read this verse I assumed that it implied they were virgins but that assumption was questioned when I read the account of another woman, Rebekah. In Genesis 24:16 Rebekah was described as “very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her:” That last phrase caught my attention. Aren’t they the same thing? Apparently they are not.
Rebekah was a young woman who had not been with a man intimately and she was also a virgin which carries the idea of being separate. This got my wheels turning as I thought back to the story of Lot’s daughters. Neither of them had physically known a man, but what about their mind? Living in Sodom was not the best place to grow up in, especially if you wanted to keep your mind pure and sadly I believe these girls had allowed the corruption of the city to take root in their mind. Without going into detail, I just want to make a quick point that these girls knew enough information to get pregnant by their father. I am not sure that a girl who had kept her mind and body pure would have been as capable, but this is just my personal opinion. If you have any thoughts on this topic I am open for discussion.
The main point I want to drive home is the importance of keeping our minds pure, it is not just enough to keep our body pure, because the mind is where it all begins. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Our biggest battle will be with the mind, once certain paths have been formed they can be hard to get off of and many times even though we have stepped away from them, they are still there. I heard a pastor say that sexual sin is the only one we are told to flee not withstand. And it is always linked with death. The strange woman in proverbs is usually paired with death, proverbs chapter 7 verse 27 says "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” It is so important to guard our heart and mind, to keep them both pure. Joseph is a great example of this, he was sold into a wicked and perverse land yet he kept his body and mind pure. Corruption is everywhere but if we keep our eyes on the Lord we can stay pure.
Realm of Influence
On a side note here, it was the oldest daughter's idea, the one who should have used her influence for good, led her younger sister into sin. We all have a realm of influence but especially within our family and we need to be careful how we wield it. How would this story have turned out had the older sister spoken words of encouragement, telling her younger sister that God would provide for all their needs including a husband. What if she would have said that they would trust God with their future whatever it might be? Instead, both girls would choose to make their own path and bring two nations into the world that would not follow after God but gain an ill reputation with their cousins. There was, however, a silver lining in this cloud, as corrupt as these descendants of Lot would become there was one who came out of their country and played a part in the salvation of the world. A person who would change the preconceived prejudices of an entire town and earn the title of Virtuous woman, her name was Ruth. Ruth was from the country of Moab but she turned her back on it all and was grafted into the lineage of Christ. This is a sweet reminder that your past does not determine your future, you can choose to break away and start fresh. Our God is One who can make all things new.
So remember that God is always with you, even when you have been abandoned by so many and you feel alone, remember just how much God loves you and that He has promised to walk with you each step of the way.
Second, each action will have a reaction. Our choices will produce results and it is important that we lean on God’s understanding and wisdom instead of our own. Trust in God’s timing and plans for you. Lot’s daughters allowed their bleak circumstances to dictate their choices and it led them down a path of shame. God is not limited by our circumstances, we just need to trust Him with our future and focus on deepening our relationship with Him.
Third, we need to guard our hearts and minds. I love this little saying that goes.
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
Lot's daughters received a terrible destiny because they did not first watch their thoughts. What destiny will your thoughts lead you?
Last, please consider who is in your realm of influence and be mindful of how you are impacting them. We all touch someone's life and leave an impression for good or bad. May we help to cultivate ground that is fertile and ready to receive the truth of God’s word. Who has God placed in your life? Are you helping them grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ?
Lately, I have been seeing the words Be Still, all over social media. This is a rough season for many people, some have been laid off without pay, others have had their hours dramatically reduced and their entire routine disrupted. Fear is a very real emotion right now, and is plaguing multiple households across our country and the world. It could be very easy for us to crumble under the pressure, to sink into a depressive state as our anxiety levels soar. Trust me, I know how powerful these emotions can be, l struggle with anxiety but I have been blessed to have some amazing friends in my life. I have a group of friends, there are six of us total that are in a group text. I have lost count of how many times I have come into a difficult situation or felt discouraged and was able to send a quick text expressing how I felt only to be bombarded with sweet words of comfort, a scripture verse, heart emojis and prayers. In times like this we need a group where we can go, friends that will point us back to the truth of who our God is and sit with us and tell us everything is going to be okay. We need each of these aspects in our life. We are social creatures and need the encouragement and fellowship of the believers.
Social distancing is what we are being cautioned to do right now but that does not mean we have to be socially disconnected. I encourage you to find ways to stay connected. We have the technology to be as connected as we want to be. It’s so easy to FaceTime, text or message someone to just say hello. And let's not forget about the beauty of a hand written note, snail mail is my favorite, it is still relevant today as it was back in the Victorian era!
To be still
Roman’s 8:28 us that all things work together for good, now that does not mean that it is always good but that all things work together for good. So many people have talked about the good they have seen come out of these last few weeks. People are learning to reconnect with others, they are realizing what is really important and how precious each moment is. They are learning to trust God all over again and realizing that He is in control of it all. And we are discovering the joy of just sitting still.
As you may already know, I have an attraction to this word or phrase, but did you know that the term "Still" in the context of standing or being still, is only found about 14 times in the Bible? Nearly all are in the Old Testament and in direct connection to God or His deliverance except once? I wanted to unpack just three of these verses.
The first time this word is mentioned is in Exodus 14:13 “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more forever”.
This is the context, the children of Israel have left Egypt, and begun their journey to the promised land. They have witnessed God’s power as He rained down the ten plagues on Egypt. They watched as the leading country in the world was brought to its knees. But just one short chapter later, they are sandwiched in a very difficult situation with the red sea before them and Pharaoh's army is behind them. Here they forget who their God is and get angry at Moses, accusing him of bringing them out here to die because there were no graves in Egypt. I have to admit, I found myself laughing a little at their response, I mean seriously, what a horrible yet hilarious accusation, you can almost hear the sarcasm! Then I thought about how often I have behaved that way, to get angry at my circumstances and blame other or worse, blame God. It is so easy to forget God’s goodness and power in the middle of a storm. When things get difficult and we feel as if we have nowhere to go, we tend to lash out.
But I love what Moses says to his forgetful and angry mob.
The second passage I want to highlight is Ruth 3:18. It is pretty much a given that if I write about the topic of being still, this verse is going to be in the list.
This verse says, Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.
This verse is actually unique, it is in a class all by itself because the context is Naomi speaking to her daughter in law Ruth about Boaz. Ruth has just shared the results of her late night meeting with Boaz where she asked him to marry her but found out that there was someone else who was in line before him. The women had not planned for this to happen at all, now Ruth could end up with a total stranger who didn’t care about her at all. We have all been in a similar situation at one point or another. We had plans, good plans but some unforeseen obstacle has gotten in the way. Right now there have been many heartbroken brides who had to completely rethink how their wedding, a wedding many spent a year preparing for and others have had to cancel trips or even family reunions. This is a difficult and disappointing time for many. Instead of getting upset or anxious maybe we should simply stop, pray and be still allowing God to work.
There is another little angle I want to bring up with this verse and that is, sometimes we have to let someone else go speak for us. Most of us are people of action, we want to stand up and fight for what is right, to speak for ourselves but what if that is not the plan? What if God wants us to simply stand still? Have you ever been wronged and wanted to march right up to the person doing the accusing and fix the problem? I have witnessed people who knew they were right but instead of charging ahead to fix the problem themselves they prayed about it. So often I saw God move by either having someone else come forward and rectify the problem or God intervening on their behalf. This is the second lesson I would like for you to take away. Sometimes plans, even good ones, don’t go the way we intended them to and that is okay because it is an opportunity for us to strengthen our faith in the Lord and build our trust in His goodness. And the second half of this second lesson is the fact that there will arise situations where instead of trying to right a wrong done to us, we need to simply sit still, bring it before the Lord and let Him settle the matter.
All right the last verse I want to talk about is the well known scripture from Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
This verse is currently being quoted and pictured in a lot of social media posts, and it is being emphasized by many influencer to remind their followers of this truth. In times where fear runs rampant it is essential for the believer to run to God, He alone is the antidote to the world’s fear. While our world seems to be in utter chaos our God is a sure foundation that we can rest upon but we have to do something first, we must be still. To be still has the idea of getting away from all the noise, all the distractions, to cease what we are doing and quiet the very thoughts in our mind so that we can hear the still small voice of our God and we can hear Him best in the quiet place. It is in these moments that we discover who God is. He is our provider, protector, conqueror, deliverer, our place of refuge, our friend and our Father. Many of us have some extra time on our hands due to multiple activities being cancelled and places being temporarily closed. Perhaps before getting to that long list of items on your to do list, you can spend a few extra moments with God, digging deep into His Word away from your phone, away from the TV and let yourself be still in His presence. This is the final lesson and I believe the most important because all of the others are built from here. This is the foundational truth because we cannot look to the Lord for our help if we first don’t know He is our help and we cannot trust in someone we don’t know very well. Getting alone with God, and letting Him speak to you is the most important part of your day and the most important ingredient to growing your faith. May we all take the necessary time to stand still, to sit still and be still so that we may know that He is God.
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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