We got to see a castle! A real, authentic castle! Actually TWO! And, cool thing, they are said to be the castles that the real Romeo and Juliet lived in. How cool is that?
When we planned our trip to Italy, I did not even think about the possibility of checking off THREE of my biggies on my personal “Bucket List,” but this is going to be a record-breaking, life-changing trip. Here are three of my biggies:
1. Go to Italy (I didn’t care where–I was certain that ANYWHERE would be great. BUT! This has been incredible. I would definitely come back. Well, AND, next time go to Rome as well. 🙂 This has been incredible to see this area. The people here are soooo sweet. They are really enjoying me in spite of how I slaughter their language. I am forever changed by them. Priceless trip!).
3. See a real castle!
It has been sooo amazing so far and we are not done yet!
I have enjoyed this entire trip so much, but it is not so much about Italy or castles or even the gondola ride. It is about stepping out and daring to do the things that we will miss unless we are intentional. Very intentional. And, stick to our intentions in spite of what we see or experience.
How many times have I been satisfied to just go through the day-in-day-out duties, responsibilities, and commitments, just leaving my deepest heart’s wishes and dreams for SOMEDAY? Well, even though I am very intentional to make the most of every day, I am still a big wimp on going for my “Bucket List.”
Even yesterday, we knew that it was going to be the only day that we could steal away and go on our “Castle Hunt.” I was soooo tired and somehow my contacts were on the fritz–they seem to think that I am staying up all night for some reason. 🙂 Everything was in a different language. My phone is unplugged–I cannot tell you how many times I have needed data this week. 🙂 I had no idea where to go to FIND a castle or get there even if we saw one. I just wanted to see one, touch one, and take my own pictures of one. 🙂
We stole away to hunt for a castle. Sounds like an easy thing, huh? ha!
Well, as our GPS could not seem to help us do much more than go in circles (UGH!), I found a problem in my character that just might be keeping me from reaching for all of my dreams and all of the sweet treasures that God has for me and my life. Yep! I got a character lesson looking for a castle. 🙂
I found that I quit too easy.
Nope. I don’t quit work. You don’t write over a 100 books and publish them over a period of 25 years if you are a quitter when you work. Oh! I NEVER quit work. Of course, that could be character lesson number 2–I SHOULD quit work sometimes and just unplug. HA!
Nope. I don’t quit relationships. If you are in a relationship with me, you know that you are STUCK! ha! Seriously, I may get mad. I definitely get YOU mad. But, I love you. Relationships are THE MAIN THING. They are one of the greatest gifts that God gives us. They are our greatest calling. They are our greatest treasure. I am pretty good about this one.
These things have given me a partial vision of my character. The “Castle Hunt” definitely cleared my vision to see one of my biggest character flaws in its fullness and how much I miss because of it. And, it is NOT what you may think or envision.
It was not that I was melting down–which sometimes is a symptom of this character flaw–this time I am in ITALY. No room for meltdowns. I am not wasting ONE MOMENT of my time with that trash! 🙂
It was that when I really want something EXTRA, something that deep-down doesn’t seem like a MUST, I will quit it easily. I will drop it in an instant because I do not want to inconvenience others.
As we pressed on to FIND THAT CASTLE (ha!), I felt over and over that it was a silly ambition. I knew Harold (and I, for that matter) was exhausted. I was trained well by my parents to think about others and to take good care of them, regardless of what it costs. However, in this instance, if Harold had not dared to know and care about my personal dreams reciprocally, however silly they may seem, I would never have seen my castle. Oh! And it was not just ONE, but TWO!!!
You guys, I am sitting here with tears just flowing like a river from my eyes because this thing is DEEP. I don’t even know if I can express it well.
Living the life of our dreams is not just doing THE BIG THING that we want to do ONE DAY. Know what I mean by that?
Nope. If we wait and save everything for THAT, we might achieve it or we might live our whole lives with it in the distance, never seeing it as a reality. For me, my BIG THING was so important that I was intentional to reach for it. It was to build a godly home, family, legacy. Of course, my husband and children are quick to point out that I have been GOOD about that one because it was not just about me–it is about them and all of them that I may never see. The stakes have been high on achieving that one. I found success in that dream rather easily and quickly. Now, all I have to do is maintain THAT ONE. 🙂
No. My problem is where I need to do something, big or small, FOR ME.
THIS IS MY CHARACTER FLAW!
If it is big, I get overwhelmed. I don’t want to plod through the mire to get there. It just seems to take away from all that I need to do for others. A good example is my pursuit toward that impossible dream of getting fit and healthy. It is SUCH a mountain ahead of me. It requires an effort that is sooo demanding and intentional that it wipes me out with overwhelm very easily. BUT! Good news! The castle taught me something that is rocking my motivation and my commitment to my own health and fitness. More on that another time.
It if it little, oh! I break. I bend. I quit! I just put it away for ANOTHER DAY or NEVER. I have a long list of these little things that just flooded my memories as I stood on top of that castle.
When it happens, I THINK that it is no problem for me to let it go. I don’t want to inconvenience others–my husband, children, family, friends, or even strangers. However, what am I doing to MYSELF in the process? I am blocking my own success. I destroy my own dreams. I disappoint my own self. I make my own failures happen by my own hand. No one else would or even COULD do this to me. I have an issue!
This is very serious! I have always thought that this was selflessness. However, I realized, as we finally saw that castle in the distance, that I let a little of myself die when I let this flaw rule me and my life.
A dream comes into our reality by two big steps:
1. Getting a vision for what we want.
Really seeing it. Knowing exactly WHAT we want and WHY we want it. Getting it clear in our mind. Imagining. Getting a really detailed focus into our cross-hairs so we can move toward it, past any and all obstacles, keeping our eyes on the prize.
Step-by-step moving forward, reaching for the dream. Pressing past obstacles and hindrances. Doing all of the work necessary to make that dream a reality.
I KNOW how to move toward my dreams. But, how can it happen if our our biggest obstacle is our character? And, if that character problem is something that we cannot clearly see about ourself. OR, if that character problem is something that we THINK is a wonderful quality of ourselves and we do not see its subtle destruction to our hearts and lives? AKA–we have bought the lie????
Well, back to the “Castle Hunt”…
We rode and rode. It was simply gorgeous. We got to see Italy in a way that I am not quite sure I have ever really SEEN America. 🙂 We weren’t quite sure if we COULD find the castles, but we were even happy to enjoy the journey and enjoy the experience.
As we got close enough that I could see the castles on the horizon, something lept in my soul. I felt like a giddy little girl. I think that Harold enjoyed my delight and joy more than the castle. I was SO THERE!
The locals say that these castles are the real homes of the families that Shakespeare based his story of Romeo and Juliet upon. Not only a castle. Not only TWO castles. BUT, the story behind the story–which is another delight of mine since I am a writer and I LOVE to know the story behind every book, every message. 🙂
One is more in ruins. The other is surprisingly strong and in amazing shape to be almost 2000 years old. Another post later on what God was speaking to my heart about building a GODLY HOME. (One of the reasons that I was sooo interested in seeing a castle–I wanted to experience a HOME that someone built that lasted for generations that they would never see, like to mine. I wanted to see how someone built a home that could weather seasons, years, struggles, even war upon the home. Again, MORE on that later!)
We were running a bit late getting there and it was almost sunset when we got to the second castle. We still had perfect lighting to see everything. They invited us to go upstairs to look out from the roof. THAT is where it got spectacular. 🙂
In my pictures you can probably see my overwhelm. The beauty was breathtaking. I kinda expected it, but what made this experience more than a field trip was that I experienced my castles with my beloved husband (who is the diggity-bomb!) and God (who showed up to be the ULTIMATE tour guide–there is SO MUCH MORE than just what we see!!).
We stayed there to watch the sunset over Vicenza. We took pics of things that we were seeing all around. It was really cool! But, the true highlight was what God spoke to my soul in sweet, sweet correction. It will change my life forever because I could really see my personal weakness and what it almost caused me to miss–my dream!
How would I REALLY feel to have done a few things that were enjoyable, but to be soooo close to my dream being a reality and walk away just because I do not want to be a bother to my very best friend–my husband.
Reminds me of training for my last 5k. I didn’t want to make Harold wait on my each day. I am SO slow! It was NOTHING in him. In fact, he would be very upset if he really saw into my wishy-washy choices. I think that they are exposed NOW–he will GET ME over this post. ha!
The bottom line is that it is NOT godly womanhood for a woman to live for the details of everyone else’s lives to the detriment of her own. It is NOT godly to die to your own dreams so you can cater to the convenience of others, especially when they are probably NOT bothered in the least–it is IN US, not them!
It is NOT beautiful. It is only self-imposed “martyrdom” that really doesn’t matter. It is just TRASH, RUBBISH in our lives. In fact, I think we are going to be accountable for each and every time we did not fully grasp onto something that God put before us. Sound heavy? Well, THIS IS what God spoke to me on top of that castle.
Even if it is a small desire that others would laugh about–which, believe it or not, countless people all day that day had laughed, rolled their eyes (FOR REAL), and almost mocked me (I CAN understand mockery in ANY language–KWIM). Others may not see the value. They may have even seen it themselves all of their lives, but not experienced it quite like I did or like we would experience it. But, it is a MUST.
Missing my castles would have done something deeper than miss a set of pictures. Missing my castles would have been added to my list of MISSED OPPORTUNITIES in my life. Soak that in!
Today, I commit in front of you, my dear friend, to dare to dream again. I don’t just want to check off three things on my bucket list. I want to really feel my dreams, big and small, and feel the accomplishment of reaching FOR them and reaching them. I want to set MORE dreams than ever before. I want some to be ridiculous! Yep! Ridiculous! I want some to be impossible–absolutely impossible!
I want to reach for my dreams and not miss even ONE!
I can just see myself at the end when I stand before my Heavenly Father. I want for Him to say to me, “Well done. Your life was LIVED WELL. You grasped onto EVERYTHING that I gave you–big and small–and invested it well. I am pleased my beloved daughter.” Then, I want to lay it all down at my Abba Papa’s feet in glory to Him for all that He has done to provide an abundant, lavish, full, purposeful, and fulfilling life for me. THAT is my biggest dream! 🙂
Yep! A character lesson I will not forget.
Sooooo, I am off to reach for my other dreams and not miss ONE!
Ciao! (Yep! I have that one down! ha!)
With much love,