Making Space For Your Dreams to Come True

September 17, 2012 | 35 comments

There’s one little word that can kill a God-sized dream.


Maybe you know how it goes?

God drops a dream on your heart, and he cracks open a door — just for you. You might be inclined to put your hand on the doorknob and make your move, but …

“But I’m afraid I’ll fail.”

“But I’m afraid someone will criticize me.”

“But I’ll make a fool of myself, tripping over the threshold on my first step through the door.”

“But I’m too old.”

“But I’m too young.”

“But I’m not skilled enough, talented enough, spiritual enough, smart enough.”

“But somebody else can do it better.”

“But what if they reject me?”

It happens like that, you know.

That three-letter word, “But,” is the number-one killer of dreams. I’ve heard a few motivational speakers say we’re in need of a gigantic “but-ectomy!”

Unless, of course, you add one more three-letter word to it:

But … GOD.

Sometimes your fears seem so big, but God is bigger.

You don’t know what awaits you on the other side of the door, but God will be there waiting.

Yes, you might fall, but God will pick you up.

And today, friend, I dare you to walk through that door, the one where the light is spilling into the hallway to light up your toes. I dare you to grab the doorknob. I dare you to take the next step to making your God-sized dream come true.

And I’m not the only one extending the dare. There’s a whole group of us gathering to cheer you on as you step through new doorways.


I’m so excited to introduce you to “Jumping Tandem: The Retreat.” The theme: “Your Big, Amazing, Ridiculous Dream.

My visionary friend, Deidra Riggs, has put together a great retreat just for you, this coming spring!

Deidra has asked me to speak, along with a few other God-sized dreamers. 

But I don’t want to give it all away here. Head on over and see for yourself what Deidra has been dreaming up for you! We hope to spend time with you in April, making space for that dream of yours!

Reach the retreat website by clicking here.


 QUESTION FOR YOU:  Do you have a dream you’ve been dreaming? Would you consider  sharing it here? God-sized dreams actually come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you’re thinking of writing a book, or making a career change, or being the best mom you can be, or running your first 5K, or planning a trip to Haiti, or leading a small Bible study group for teens, or __________ (fill in the blank).


 {ALSO … A SONG BY JAMIE GRACE to inspire you as you pursue your dream… I’ve been singing this one at the top of my lungs, like a prayer for you, friend.}

“When you lead
I’ll follow
Just light the way and I’ll go
‘Cause I know what you got for me is more than I can see
So lead me on and on …”

by | September 17, 2012 | 35 comments


  1. SimplyDarlene

    What a God-grande thing you ladies are doing. I’m excited to see what miss Deidra & company have going on.

    (I don’t mean this to be a “but,” it’s just a question. Maybe I’m the only one who has it. Then again, maybe not…)

    Regarding the whole “what’s your dream?” bit, for so many years I’ve had none. When I came to know the Lord some 9 years ago, that’s when I done gone and dropped my wants like a steaming pile of horse-you-know-what.

    I set aside dreams for the new me in Christ, for my role as a help-meet, a mother, and a child of God. I don’t think I’ve outright let myself dream because it still feels selfish, but I am trying to let myself be used by God … shouldn’t that be our biggest dream?

    Miss JDL – how does one balance the mememememe with GOD?


    • dukeslee

      You ask SUCH good questions here, Darlene. In fact, I think these are the most important questions of all. I suspect we’ll be discussing all of this at the retreat, but I’ll do my best to share a few thoughts here:

      If the dream is “all about me,” it could very well look like a nightmare. I think we have to constantly ask ourselves in everything that we do: Is this about God? Or am I try to make this be about me? Did God plant this dream? Or am I trying to push our own agenda, and “make something happen” on my own?

      Is God glorified? Or the self?

      I’ve had both kinds of dreams in my life — ones that were about me, and ones that weren’t. We’ll be doing some talking at the retreat about how we can tell the difference.

      I think, too, that we have to realize that God-sized dreams aren’t always these big flashy dreams of publication or whatever. May I dare say that what you describe above — about being a help-meet, a mother, a child of God? — is actually a God-inspired dream? More than anything, I dream that I can demonstrate to my children what it means to grow in faith, in Christ, through all of their days. I’ve had no greater dream.

      I had a talk with a good friend about dreams last week. And she and I agreed this: For some people, a dream might be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning, or being able to help their kids through school, or surviving another day.

      So, this is a really long answer to your wonderful questions. I hope you come back and join in the conversation here, and that others also join in, too.

  2. Jillie

    Good post today, Jennifer. ‘Simply Darlene’ poses a good question. I felt this way for years too. Giving of myself to hearth and home, raising my children, serving husband and church. Now, children are grown and gone. Trying to figure out what to do next. But dreams? Ain’t got none. I used to believe that if I had an ‘impossible dream’, GOD surely planted it in my heart. I do believe He wants us to dream. But, I’ve had so many dreams through the years that just never got answered. Lots of dashed hopes. How does one balance dreams with reality, even when we know ‘The God of the impossible’? ‘Reality’ seems to win out more often than not. It scares me sometimes that I feel so negative toward dreaming anymore, because of the verse that says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Something does ‘die’ on the inside when we no longer dream, but I guess I’m just afraid of more dashed hopes.

    • dukeslee

      I do wonder, if we have to define what it means to dream. Have we as a culture made it seem like The Dream has be some grandiose thing, in the earthly sense?

      Like I posed in the question above, maybe it’s something like hosting a Bible study for teens, or being the best mom we can be. What do you think? Do those count as dreams? I think they do!

      Right now, my 1o-year-old daughter has a dream of building a playground for children in Haiti. It’s a dream that has been building for about two years, and it has taken a long time to find the right way to do this. But she has stepped through that cracked-open door. One of my dreams for 2012-2013 is to do what I can to encourage her in her own dream.

      If we broaden our definition of dreams, I think we all have them. And I think they are uniquely tied to our purposes here on Earth. I think right now of the verses in Acts 17, in which we see that God has planted each of us for a specific time and purpose.

      It sounds like you’ve pursued some beautiful dreams in your life, Jillie. I look forward to seeing how he uses you in the days, weeks and years ahead, to do His work unto His glory. xo

  3. ro.ellott

    Jennifer…thank you for a safe place for me to risk being honest here…dreams…since coming into the blog world I never thought much about dreams…or at least thought about them in a positive way. maybe living in the “music” capital of the world…the christian publishing capital…I have seen to many “dreams”…following God… was really founded in self…and I have seen too many people start with good intentions become tainted…even corrupted. THere is a lot of carnage here in this city. So I confess….I am realizing that I have let what I have seen(much close up) give me a bad taste for people pursuing dreams.
    I have told my husband…reading people in this bloggy world has caused me to let God come and teach me anew…I can hear hearts like yours and others and know that your dreams grow out of your pursuit of God. For me right now…i just try to live a yielded life…open each day to what He has for me…learning to be faithful in the small things…and if He asks me of “bigger” this…what does that really mean in this upside down kingdom…I will be ready to say yes…yes will be easier because I said 100’s of yes’s that got me here.
    It truly is about the journey …not a destination.
    I love your heart…it spurs me on:)

    • dukeslee

      You are such a beautiful soul, Ro. Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly here. These are the types of dreams that change the world, my friend … the ones that live out John 3:30 … Jesus becomes greater; we become less.

      I really don’t think that “big” in the earthly sense, and “big” in the Kingdom sense are the same thing at all. But my hope is this: that we don’t let the world sabotage the beauty of “dreaming.” A God dream isn’t about spotlights and bestseller lists and stardom. It’s about stepping into the fullness of who God is calling you to be. And I think you’re doing it in the most beautiful way, my friend. Press on, in Jesus’ name. I love the way that DREAMS look on you, sister.

      This quote by A.W. Tozer is one that I repeat often, so I don’t fall into the same trap: “Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.”

      It really is all because of Jesus…

      Love, Jennifer

  4. Marcus Goodyear

    This summer I spent a lot of time dreaming about how I could be a better father to my son. My wife and I watched him closely to see what he liked to do.

    We noticed that he spends about 4 hours a day playing with Legos. He reads Lego books at night. He browses the internet looking for Lego schematics. He watches YouTube videos of people building Lego sets. He searches eBay for specialty Lego pieces to buy with his allowance.

    Maybe God was trying to tell us something?

    Instead of dreaming for myself, we started dreaming for him. That sounds noble, so I won’t tell you how hard it was.

    Here’s what we came up with:

    • dukeslee


      That is so inspiring.

      I love your mission statement, which includes practicing “gracious professionalism.” How discovery is more important than winning! Yes, yes! I love they way you folks in Kerrville are dreaming. And yes, I’m sure it took an awful lot of work to put that together. Just because we walk through a door, doesn’t mean it will be easy … or that it will even be wildly successful. But as you say, “discovery is more important than winning.”

    • laura

      Marcus, what very cool parents you and Amy are. This is awesome.

  5. Carol J. Garvin

    Being asked about my aspirations is like asking me what I want to be when I grow up… but after I’m already grown up. At some point I thought I’d be “there”, I’d achieve that special destination, but God keeps putting new challenges in front of me, making me believe my purpose “here” is to expect an on-going journey.

    There’s a poster going the rounds on Facebook that I shared this morning:”What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Like your question, it’s hard to define. Thinking, thinking. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Well, if you come up with an answer, I’d love to hear it, Carol! And if you want to bring that answer all the way to Nebraska in April? That would be fabulous. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Mmmm… I like that dream.

      And also? I thank God for what He is doing through you, right where you are, in ways that stretch all the way from Texas to Iowa … and beyond. It’s dreamy to me. 🙂

  6. Libby

    I am not really sure what this dream is that is growing in me. I do know that over the past year God has been showing me how to really listen to him….still learning by the way! But instead of listening to everyone around me and listening to him and being willing to just sit on a thought for a while. Sit on an idea until he shows the next move, the next piece of the puzzle is something he’s telling me to do, teaching me how to do. What comes of it, what he has in mind right now? I’m not sure. I live near where the retreat will be taking place and am praying now that I will be able to come. I have had a growing…something in me over the summer to interact with women more (whether online or in person) who have struggled with disappointments in ministry like I have and whether it’s just a “stop” along the journey or the beginnings of a dream growing, I really don’t know. But I am excited to see what God has in mind next!

    • dukeslee


      I hope we get a chance to meet in Ashland in April. I am praying for you right now, as you sort out the puzzle pieces, and — with the Spirit’s leading — that you can see where all the pieces fit, into one beautiful picture for His glory.

      So nice to have you here today, Libby.

      ~ Jennifer

  7. Lisa-Jo @lisajobaker

    Cheering for you all cheering them dreamers on. Love this so much.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Lisa-Jo! You mentor and inspire us to dream BIG, and follow God right into the places He has for us to go. One of my dreams is to be a mother who lives in the moment, rather than racing ahead. And your words at are a great resource for me as God helps me make that dream come true.

  8. nancy ruegg

    Jennifer, you are so right about the negative “buts.” They punch and poke until our dreams lie in shriveled, deflated heaps. BUT! You have reminded us of the positive buts. God is bigger than any obstacle, and God is waiting on the other side of the door. I’m going to start collecting God’s BUTS from scripture, to use against those discouraging buts coming from you-know-who!

    • dukeslee

      Oooo Nancy … I’d love to see that list! Come back and share it, OK?

  9. Lori Poppinga

    Sounds interesting…and what perfect timing with the wings recently added to your dream! 🙂 You’ve always got the good stuff.
    Keep up the God work.

  10. Lynn Morrissey

    Jennifer, your retreat sounds wonderful, and I think God will use it to encourage women to keep dreaming and not give up, because in one sense, when we give up on God-given dreams, we give up on Him. Oh, I don’t mean that we don’t believe in God or that we stray from Him, but we give up hoping for Him to accomplish what we can’t ourselves–that we give up on Him doing the impossible through us (which in some respect diminishes our faith). And as we let go of dreams, we don’t cooperate with God in accomplishing what He wants us to, and there is loss–not just to us, but especially to those to whom our dreams minister. Many years ago, author/speaker Anne Ortlund, at a women’s conference, had us write down the desires of our heart next to Ps. 20 in our Bibles. It wasn’t that there was magic in writing, itself, but rather that, prayerfully, before the Lord, we were asking Him to give us the desires of our heart. I personally believe that means that we are to ask God to place His own desires for us into our hearts so that we can ask for Him to accomplish them (not just our own personal desires). I wrote down my desires (dreams) that I believe God was giving to em, and every single one has come to fruition (like my brother and husband’s salvation, that I would speak and write books, that I would teach journal classes–and other dreams). Writing simply helped me to clarify what God was showing me in a tangible way. I am sooo glad that you are talking about this, because just this morning, the Lord led me to read about Abraham and Sarah and their dream of having a child. You know the ending to that dream. They had their child of laughter, Isaac, when it really was an impossible dream, BUT for God….. (THere’s that word!) God had them wait 25 years to fulfill this dream, and maybe one reason was so that they would have NO doubt about WHO had accomplished it! Sometimes I think we give up on dreams when God is just about to fulfill them, because we get tired of waiting. Not all dreams do materialize, of course, and there can be many reasons for that, too–maybe we were mistaken in thinking they were God’s dreams when they were really a selfish desire, maybe they are God’s dreams, but He will use someone else to accomplish them (like Solomon building the temple rather than David), maybe it is that God is delaying to teach us important lessons of faith and trust or to bring us to maturity. Maybe there are other factors that are not yet in place amongst people who are part of the dream. I don’t pretend to know all the reasons. But I do know that God gives us dreams, large and small, and it is His will for us to keep dreaming them, keep praying, keep doing the small things along the way that He uses us to prepare us for the dream. We need to stay faithful. I have sometimes let the death of dreams discourage my dreaming. But I know that is not what God wants. So through reading your encouragement today, and also those passages in Genesis, I feel as if God is encouraging me not to give up on my dreams. THe two biggest right now are to write more books and to ignite a global Christian journaling revolution! So many Christain women could become so much more intimate with God if they prayed in their journals, and God so often uses our journals as a means of helping us to explore our dreams on paper. Often, I find, that people don’t know what they are thinking until they write it down. I have just completed 3 1/2 years of extensive training in journal facilitation, so I stand on tiptoe to see how God is going to accomplish this dream in my life. This dream is God-sized, and it is NOT about me, but about how He can use me to help other women draw closer to Him. I think my motives are right, and I know I cannot possibly accomplish this dream without Him! So bless you, dear Jennifer, and your dreaming friends for this wonderful and encouraging challenge!

    • dukeslee


      I always appreciate your comments. And the God-timing is perfect. I’ve been reading some of those same verses this weekend (and yesterday) as I consider what it means to have a God-inspired dream. I always appreciate you, Lynn.

      It would be a joy to see you there!

      ~ Jennifer

      • Lynn Morrissey

        You are incredibly gracious, Jennifer. Please know I do NOT mean to say so much. Truly! You (and your topics) just inspire me so much. And I would love to come. I shall be praying! Love, Lynn

        • dukeslee


          Be assured. We LOVE what you have to say. Keep writing. And as much as you want! You have blessed me so much with your words, in such a short time.

  11. latoya @ a peaceful crib

    I dream of being able to stay at home full time with my kids, sharing the Word of God through art and allowing God to use my testimony for His glory:)

    • dukeslee


      What a beautiful dream. Praying for you, right now, that God opens the right doors for those God-glorifying dreams to come to fruition!

  12. David Rupert

    There is a new revival among artists, writers, dancers and visionaries to dream big.

    Unfortunately, we get bogged in the economics. Being a writer doesnt mean having a book. Being a singer doesnt mean having a record deal.

    Our dreams must not be tied to economics, otherwise they’ll be tarnished and sullied by the world.

    I would love to come to the conference, but it seems fem-centric. True?

    • Patricia

      Thank you, David. Just the right words for me.

    • dukeslee

      Hey David,

      You know what I think has happened? I think that the enemy has hijacked the word “dream.” And also, that for the past decades, we’ve mixed our God-driven DREAMS up wit the American Dream. Sadly, we forget that dreaming was God’s idea, and we think we’re not allowed to dream anymore.

      I’ll check with Deidra on your question about the conference, OK?

  13. Susan

    Wow, Jennifer – what a great venture! I’m not sure what my dreams are at this point. I used to think “book deal” but that’s more of a goal than a dream.

    I think I might be living my dream every day — to appreciate His presence, to love my family, to feel useful, to encourage someone… the book deal would still be cool 😉

  14. Shelly Miller

    I dream of seeing lots of women understand that they are not their circumstances, that God is bigger than their circumstances, that they can realize their dreams when they walk with Christ. I pray that my life, the way God redeemed my circumstances, will be used to inspire transformation through the stories I tell in whatever way He chooses. I’m dreaming of a book and the opportunity to look into the eyes of the soul hungry to realize it. And I’ll be there, at the retreat, hugging your neck and cheering you on in my seat when you speak.

  15. Daune

    You did it again…you always do…inspire me! I just love you. And I can’t wait to meet you one day and hug you really good!!! Your note in my inbox was the nudge I needed to finally begin writing…and I pray I keep doing it. Thanks you.
    …and oh, you’re never too old to learn to sew! I would love to teach you!
    I wrote my post after reading yours.
    Glorious joy be yours today.

  16. Cristina

    Jennifer you are so right… so many times I have used “but” to justify my fear of what is behind the next door. However now I’m learning how to say “But what’s the worst that could happen?” and then I understand that every reason and fear I have is not justified. I have traveled a long way and there is still so much to see and do, it’s a shame to let a small word like “But” stop us achieving our dreams.

  17. laura

    Dreaming big dreams for this whole event, Jennifer. No buts about it.



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