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Tag: purpose

woman backpacking

Leaving Familiar

With graduation around the corner, I was inspired to re-read The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. The book’s first half is a parable about a Nobody named Ordinary, who the Dream Giver gives a dream, but to see it fulfilled, he must leave Familiar.

The parable follows what writers call the hero’s journey. The hero, Ordinary, has a call to adventure—his dream. He initially refuses the call until a mentor (Ordinary’s father) and a sense of discontent encourage him to act and cross a threshold into a new environment. Along the journey, he battles enemies (self-doubt, bullies, giants) and makes allies until he reaches the innermost cave (Salvation), where he realizes the tools and strength that he needs have been given to him. He summons the courage to face the greatest challenge and is rewarded with victory. Then he returns home (in Ordinary’s case through a letter to his father) a redeemed or resurrected person.

The hero’s journey and the parable of The Dream Giver apply to our lives, too, so much so that I want to break it down over the next couple of weeks, starting with the call to action and leaving familiar.

We all are born with a purpose.

I was born creative. Since I was little, I loved to build things, draw pictures, and write stories. My friends and I would often build forts in the woods, but once constructed, I never played in the fort. The fun was in the creating. However, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d say a dentist. I had it in my head that creating was playing, and work had to be something—well—more like work. It took some time to realize the two could coincide.  

God has plans for us.

God knitted us together in our mother’s wombs and laid out our every moment before a single day had passed (Psalm 139). In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There is no may or might in that statement. God has plans for you.

Also, God isn’t willy-nilly. He’s a God of order and divine purpose and instills that same desire inside us. He plants the seeds early on. David was anointed to be king years before it even seemed possible. Joseph was given the dream of being a leader when he was a boy. Abraham was shown the stars and told his descendants would number the sky long before Sarah became pregnant.

Expect God to use you for His glory.   

handing over diploma

Our purpose may or may not be apparent, but if we ask God to reveal it, He will. Often our dreams can lie dormant inside of us until God reveals His plan. Or, it can be developed and trained like a skilled instrumentalist over time. We can test different waters to see where our talents lie or establish new ones. Or be tested, like the parable of the talents—those who were faithful with a little were then given much. Our dreams can also change over time, maturing as we develop and fulfill our dreams. We’re never too old to have a new dream.

If you move, God will move.

To reach our potential, we have to leave the familiar. I remember feeling overwhelmed at my first writer’s conference. I felt overwhelmed and out of my league, but God placed valuable mentors in my life who to this day help encourage and edit my works. It can be terrifying to strike out and try something new but don’t fear making mistakes. God won’t let a few mistakes ruin His plan for your life. Also, don’t wait on perfect conditions. Make room for your opportunity. There will always be some risks to mitigate, but if you don’t step out in faith, there is a chance you could miss out on God’s blessings for your life.

Step out of the familiar in faith, trusting in God’s plan. We do the possible so that God can do the impossible.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:20

tire ruts

Get Out of That Rut!

Ever felt stuck in a rut? The idiom comes from the early pioneer days when covered wagon wheels would get stuck in the grooves or channels of a dirt road where prior wagons had passed. The wheels would get bogged down by the deeper holes or forced along a specific track.

Ruts can be an emotional state. As much as I look forward to summer relaxation and fun, there’s a part of me that has been on the go, driving kids to sports events, youth groups, and attending end-of-the-year school functions. My life has been what’s next, next, next for so long that when I can’t list off a few things that need to be done immediately, I start to feel edgy. I have to force myself not to create busy work. It takes a couple of weeks before I can relax and be okay without running around at Mach two with my hair on fire (to quote from Top Gun).

In his book, MaxOut, entrepreneur and business personality, Ed Mylett, talks about how we move to what is familiar to us – specifically with emotional states. The question is, what state is our status quo? Is it angered, stressed, fearful, anxious, worried, or depressed? Are we returning to harmful emotions because they’re familiar, like how dogs return to their vomit? How do we move toward the good emotions, like those derived from the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

youn girl thinking

God, in His goodness, gave us the answer in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” I know what you’re probably thinking (or at least I was). Easier said than done. True, but when we also look at how God made our brains, the genius of our creator is awe-inspiring.

We have a Reticular Activating System or RAS, where our brains focus on what is deemed essential and filter out most other stimuli. The RAS is why when you get a particular hairstyle or specific fingernail color, it pops up everywhere. Ring tones are a famous example; once you choose one, it sounds like everyone has the same one. This is because we’ve told our brains to look for this information and not let it slide by us.

If we concentrate on what is worrisome or stressful, our brains will filter for anxious stimuli. If we focus on what is excellent or praiseworthy, our brains will reward us with positive and encouraging stimuli. When we ruminate on our dreams and God’s purpose for our lives, opportunities, connections, and learning lessons will pop up on our radar.

Over time, by merely redirecting our thoughts, we can jump the rails of our negative rut and get on a life-giving path.

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College students

What do You Want to do for the Rest of Your Life?

My oldest son is starting to look at colleges. Stacks of brochures arrive every day in our mailbox with smiling faces of young adults on the front, all of them stating they have state-of-the-art programs. The pressure to measure up increases as grades, essays, and S.A.T. scores threaten to limit your options or categorize kids into specific levels.

My son asked me a line of questions with an underlying theme, do I have what it takes to make it? I reassured him that he did. We’ve done our best to set him up for life, but for the first time, his future will be entirely up to him, which can make for some scary decisions for a seventeen-year-old.

Raising an Entrepreneur Cover

Margot Machol Bisnow, in her book Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Change Makers, argues that parents often fear that if their kids pursue their passion, they won’t make enough money to live. Parents can’t help but have heart palpitations when their child or grandchild says, “when I grow up, I’m going to be a social influencer or play video games for a living.” Parents long for their children to pursue their passions but also make enough money to be productive bill-paying adults, not living in our basements. Bisnow states, “someone who loves something enough and works hard enough at it will find a way to turn it into a living… I [Bisnow] also believe they will never be great at something if they don’t work nonstop at it, and they will never work nonstop if they don’t love it.”

While I agree with what Bisnow says, I also believe that our passions can lead us astray. I went through a phase where I was passionate about the color purple, and almost everything in my wardrobe was a shade of that color, but thankfully, that passion faded. I can say the same about art and dance. While those skills and abilities were at one point my passion, they have made for better hobbies and would have quickly become a chore if tied to my income.

So how do we decide what we want to do with our lives? How do we help guide our children and train them up in the way they should go? (Proverbs 22:6)

Teach them to pursue God.

It’s that simple, yet complicated. Pursue God and He will show you your purpose. The word pursue is critical. It doesn’t mean tossing out a quick prayer; God, help me pick a major. To pursue means to chase after. I think of the woman who’d bled for twelve years who sought to be healed by Jesus. The streets had been crowded that day as Jesus was passing through. People were trying to get close, bumping him, rubbing elbows, but they weren’t the ones being healed. It was a woman who sought out Jesus with the faith that if she merely touched his cloak, she would be healed. It was only then that Jesus felt power leave him (Luke 8:43-48). It was her desperate pursuit that brought on the miracle.

When we walk in our purpose, it becomes a passion. There is joy in living out God’s will for our lives, but it doesn’t come without challenges. David still had to face a giant, but he ran out onto the field two meet Goliath. David was ready for battle, ready for his destiny, whereas Goliath walked. David also had to wait to become king. He started as the harp boy playing music to soothe King Saul. David had ups and downs winning battles but ran for his life when King Saul became jealous. After basically getting fired and evicted, David met his mighty men, who would then stand by him when he became king.

We, too, will have ups and downs, failures and triumphs. God puts us in different situations, sometimes to grow ourselves and sometimes to help others grow. We shouldn’t be afraid to start small with humble beginnings or fail. God has made us resilient. That’s why a righteous man can fall seven times and still get back up again. Whatever path we choose, we know that God will direct our steps if we pursue Him and His will for our lives. We can rest assured that He has plans for us and will give us hope and a future.

thumbs up

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man with drawn muscles

How to Handle a Bully

words describing a bully

I was petrified of a bully on my bus. She looked tough, acted tough, and sounded tough. She dressed in all black and always sat in the back of the bus. I intentionally avoided sitting near her and never made eye contact lest I became her next victim. I stayed off her radar, until one day, she needed a quarter. She asked the people around her, but either no one had one, or they wouldn’t give it to her. She started moving up the aisle seat to seat saying she needed a quarter. I could tell something was wrong. She looked a little paler than normal. Her voice was a tad more shrill. She seemed panicked. She passed by, overlooking me. (That’s how good I’d gotten at going unnoticed.) But something inside me told me to give her a quarter.

“Wait!” I yelled.
 Her head whipped around, and a pair of dark eyes locked on me.
“I have a quarter.” I dug into my backpack, pulled out a quarter, and handed it to her.
She took it, issued me a nod, and got off at the next stop.

The next day I was standing at my locker when I heard “Hey!” I turned around to see her walking with her friends. She held my gaze. I fought to keep my knees from shaking while she walked by me. I was now on her radar. So much for doing the right thing, I berated myself. Then the oddest thing happened. After her friends passed, she glanced back at me over her shoulder and waved with a smile.

I can’t remember smiling or waving back. I think I was too dumbfounded to move. I just stared at her as she walked down the hall. From that day forward, she always waved to me. We never held a conversation or socialized, but she had become an ally.

Over the weekend, my sister-in-law, Liz, and I discussed how to handle bullies. This Tuesday marked the first week of school for our kids, so I thought it might be helpful to impart some of her wisdom. Here’s what we decided to tell our children:

Man with chalkboard drawn muscles
  • It’s never wrong to do the right thing – It’s good to defend the defenseless. Our courage must be stronger than our complacency. Standing by and watching a bully only makes them stronger.
  • Know who you are and who you represent – Be confident in the person God has created you to be. No matter what a bully says, God made you beautiful, and He made you for a purpose. He has great plans for you. Plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Stand bold and speak loud – Bullies feed on weakness. If you stand tall, speak clearly and firmly, often they will back down.
  • Don’t take yourself for seriously – Bullies can often be set off-guard especially if you can laugh at yourself. They’re trying to upset you, but if you can take their insults and joke about it, they won’t know what to do. If they say your shirt is ugly, say “yep, the 1980s called this morning and asked for it back.”
  • Remember bullies are broken people – Bullies bully to feel more powerful. The reason they need power is because they feel insecure. Someone has hurt them in their past, and they essentially are crying out for help. Remember that God also created them and He loves them. If you see a need or an opportunity to help them, it can go a long way as a peace offering, but it can also be a way to show them a bit of God’s love. Sometimes all it takes is a small gesture, like giving them a quarter.

This advice doesn’t necessarily apply to cyberbullying. Technology takes things to the next level fast. Sometimes too fast for a young person to fully understand the danger and the consequences. It’s always good to discuss situations where you believe you’ve been bullied with an adult, trusted friend, or in some cases the authorities. You don’t have to struggle with a bully alone. Remember you are the head, not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13), that you are to be a light to the world – a city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14-16), and part of a chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12). This is truth, and nothing a bully can say or do will change it.

For more information on bullying go to

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Modern clean lined living rooom

Comparison – The “Oh Shiney Object” of Purpose.

I threw out all my home décor magazines.

It turns out they were not good for my mental state.

Modern Living Room

I’d look at the beautiful homes and the new fashions and colors and grow discontented with the scuff marks on my walls, the dents in the baseboards, and the outdated style. The more I compared my home to the fancy high-end homes of the rich and famous, the less satisfied I became with what I had.

We’d done some renovations already. Why wasn’t I satisfied with that?

Tom Gilovich, a behavioral economist from Cornell University, found that although we might find a slight uptick or rush in happiness when we first purchase something, it quickly dwindles as we adapt to it. Psychologists have coined the term “hedonistic treadmill”—after the initial rush of happiness wears off, to maintain the feeling of stimulation, people go out and purchase another and another to maintain the rush.

The ugliness of comparison.
Saul, the first king of Israel, was a tall, handsome, and a fierce warrior. He was everything the Israelites wanted in a king. However, Saul was driven crazy by a song. In 1 Samuel chapter 18, women were singing about their heroes and the decimation of their enemies by chanting Saul had slain his thousands, but David has slain his ten thousands. King Saul should have been psyched. David was on his team. By destroying their enemies, David saved King Saul a lot of work and added to his greatness. But Saul wasn’t happy.

“We won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated by purpose.” – Bob Goff

The ugliness of comparison altered Saul’s judgement. It distracted him from being a great King and instead turned his focus onto being better than one specific shepherd boy. From Saul’s view from his castle, the grass seemed greener in the shepherd boy’s pasture. Ultimately, comparison destroyed Saul.

Woman putting on makeup

I see the same inner turmoil, especially in women. We often get all dolled up, not to woo our man, but to one-up the other women present. The beast of comparison rears its ugly head. The true purpose of enjoying friendships is often lost behind layers of mascara, lipstick, and tummy suckers.

“Happiness isn’t getting what you want. It’s wanting what you’ve already got.” – Garth Brooks

My house is not shiny and new. It’s a home. It’s lived in, comfortable, and enjoyable. Troupes of children pass through, tracking in dirt and raiding the cabinets. If I updated it into the mausoleums pictured in the magazines, in the end, how much happier would I truly be? And for how long? Would I be trading my family time and or writing time for safeguarding the house against smudges and scratches? And what happens when the next magazine issue comes out with a different latest up-and-coming style?

I’m exhausted thinking about it. It’s not worth it to me. As it turns out, I derive more pleasure out of knowing people feel welcome in our home. I do, however, hope that distressed furniture will make a comeback.

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What Do We Live For?

In a 2010 Afghanistan firefight, William “Kyle” Carpenter ran towards a hand grenade to shield another marine, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio, from the blast. The William "Kyle" Carpenter with Medal of Honorimpact cost Kyle his eye and lower jaw. His lung collapsed and many of his bones shattered. He was labeled dead as he arrived at the field hospital and nearly died a second time at Walter Reed Medical Center. Countless surgeries and two and a half years of rehabilitation in a hospital, Kyle lived to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. Kyle refuses to let the enemy stop him. He says, in the defense video which can be seen below, “The enemy killed me. I came back, ran a marathon, completed a mud run, and jumped from a plane. I won’t ever quit. I am just getting started,”

This week as we celebrate and honor our veteran’s, I am grateful to Kyle, and every military person who has fought for our great country to maintain our freedom. It is obvious by reading about Kyle and watching his video not only what Kyle is willing to die for, but also what he is willing to live for.

As I sit and type in my cozy room, safe in my warm home, with the sound of birds chirping outside my window instead of mortar fire, Kyle’s story gets me thinking. He was willing to risk his life for our freedom and safety. Jesus said in John 15:13, “No one can have greater love than to give his life for his friends.” Jesus knew this all too well. He paid the ultimate price for all of us. He took our sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross so that anyone who believes in him can have eternal life (John 3:16).

The question now becomes, what do we live for? Or, better yet who do we live for? We have been given an amazing gift, a second chance. What are we doing with it? Jesus said he came so that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). Are we living a full life?

And by full, I don’t mean busy. Busyness can be detrimental. I admit I struggle with this. If I have an idle moment, instead of using it to be still and listen for God’s voice, I allow guilt to set in and create trivial tasks to occupy my time. Busyness doesn’t lead to a full life. Leading a life with purpose does.

Wallowing in sadness or hiding behind our fears also doesn’t honor the sacrifice made for us. I don’t mean for us to slap a smile on our faces and fake it til we make it. No, I’m saying turn our focus from inward to outward. God is greater than the pile of unpaid bills, the boss’s hurtful words, or the date that never texted or bothered to call back. Happiness is momentary and fleeting based on an event, but God’s joy is a continuous spring from which we can drink and drink often and whenever needed. By showing God’s joy through our countenance, through our lives, and our actions, we are honoring Jesus’s sacrifice.

Starting today, how can you honor the sacrifice made for you?

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Olive Oil Sleepwalking at a construction site

One Way or Another? – Knowing Where You are can Help Where You’re Going.

Remember the cartoons of a sleepwalking figure (like Olive Oil in Popeye the Sailorman) who ended up on a steel beam construction-site skyscraper?  Every Olive Oil Sleepwalking at a construction sitetime she’s about to step off the ledge and plummet twenty stories to her death, another beam is raised. She teeters onto it, oblivious to her deadly situation.

Or, if you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire Cat which path she should take. The Cheshire Cat responds with a question, “Well, where are you going to?” She says she doesn’t know, and the cat profoundly replies, “Then one way is just as good as another.”

Life can sometimes feel like we’re fumbling around lost in the dark, guessing where to go next. Without setting our goals and priorities properly then the Cheshire Cat is right. One way might as well be as good as another. We don’t know.

One day, when I was young, I was gazing at the colorful gumballs in the grocery store gumball machine, when my mom walked out. I followed her through the automatic doors. She stopped to cross the parking lot, and I reached up to hold her hand. Except, to my horror, the woman wasn’t my mother. Panicked, I yanked my hand away and spun around frantically searching for my mom, who, much to my relief, just pushed our cart out onto the sidewalk.

Being led astray can be scary, but we don’t have to stay on that path. New Years is the perfect time to re-evaluate our lives, correct our mistakes and re-establish our priorities. It’s the perfect time to stop rushing around putting out fires we could prevent if we just took a second to be still and seek God’s path for our lives.

I know, I know, who has the time, right? Or the willingness? But if we have a plan and a purpose, then the unknowns of the future can turn into an awaiting Make it Happen Noteadventure. A little advanced planning can save a boat-load of time later. Fortunately, God has provided a manual to guide us, and the Holy Spirit to direct our steps if we let Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). My husband is one of those odd people who enjoys setting goals. He’d already written his goals for 2018 back in November and developed a process to implement them. Here are some of his helpful hints for setting resolutions:

  • Pray over your year and see what God reveals to you.
  • Try to set a goal for different aspects of your life, for example: spiritual, personal (or social), work-related (or mental), and physical,
  • Set realistic goals that are simple and attainable: See S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
  • Chunk them down into smaller bite-sized goals with reasonable deadlines.

New Years is a time to get in-tune with God. Time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the next. If you let God be your guide, you can keep your eyes on the goal and stride forward with purpose, knowing God has prepared the way.

May God bless you in 2018. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, may you hear His voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21). May He be the light unto your feet and the lamp unto your path (Psalm 119:105).  May He fill you with His hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11).

With Love,

Lorri Dudley

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Beacon Hill, Massachusetts State house

Keep Your Eye on the Prize – Focus on Your Purpose

I’ve self-diagnosed myself with post-natal onset ADHD. This is literally what I did on Monday morning:

Went downstairs to prepare kids lunches for school. Grabbed peanut butter and jelly out of the pantry. Noticed dirty dishes on counter. Began rinsing dishes. Opened dishwasher. Realized the dishes were clean. Emptied dishwasher. While putting cups away, saw the time on the clock. Kids needed to be at the bus stop in ten minutes. Stopped emptying dishwasher. Went back to making PB&J sandwiches. Asked kids if homework was done. Got one response, “It still needs to be printed off the computer!” Logged onto computer and hit print. Checked email while waiting. Remembered I wanted to add a funny photo of a deer from our night camera to my replies. Grabbed SD card. Searched for where the SD card inserts into computer. Couldn’t find it. Put SD card aside and closed computer. Went back to making PB&J. Youngest son came downstairs in shorts. It was 35 degrees outside. Sent him back up to find pants. Claimed he couldn’t find any. Looked in laundry room. Pulled clean pair out of dryer. Noticed wrinkled shirts. Shook out wrinkles. Realized kids still don’t have lunch. Quickly threw PB&J sandwiches in baggie and zipped it into kid’s lunch boxes. Hugs and kisses all around. Sent them to the bus.

Distractions. Interruptions. Diversions. There are a lot of things conspiring to keep us from our goal.

It even happens in my writing. I have to keep a post-it on the top of my computer reminding me of my heroine’s goal. That way, the purpose of my story stays at the forefront of my mind and doesn’t wander off down a rabbit trail.

I’ve been doing research on the history of Boston for the setting of my next Beacon Hill, Massachusetts State housemanuscript. Boston rooted itself in Puritanism. John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, said, “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all the people are upon us.” His words reference Matthew 5:14-16:

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

These settlers came to establish a place of religious freedom. Where God would be first in their lives, and where they could be an example of charity and Christian values. Yet, churches in other regions of the country now consider the Boston area a mission field. A 2016 Gallop poll found Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island as the least religious states in the U.S. based on church attendance and the importance of religion.

How did we get to this point?

We lost our focus. Even with good intentions, if our purpose isn’t at the forefront of our minds, we will lose our way.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Keep your eye on the prize.

Side note: For those of you concerned about New England, here is some hope. I started attending Connect Community Church in 2002, and the average attendance was around two hundred people. In 2017, we have grown to 1,000 and are going strong. Our young adult group, the 508 (which is named after our area code and at one point met in my basement) is now drawing in over 400 college aged kids—on a Friday night! As Pastor Deryck says, we are fighting fulfill our purpose of “emptying hell and populating heaven.”  

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