What to Do When Someone Barks at You

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My husband, beagle-basset {aka “bagel”} Katie and I stroll along a neighbor street as autumn leaves turn colors and occasionally toss themselves toward us like confetti.

We round a corner and a trio of dogs sound the alarm. Two small. One large. They each offer their version of a bark–a deep, gruff warning; a high-pitched yap; and a trying-to-be-intimidating whine.

I’m startled for a moment and stop in my tracks while my dog keeps moving right along, tail wagging happily. I look in the direction of all the noise and realize why: those three dogs are firmly behind a fence.

Katie {affectionally nicknamed “the beast”} is wiser than me in this way. She pays no attention whatsoever to anything that can’t actually hurt her. Not a single “woof!” in response. Not a missed step. Not a concerned look.

She doesn’t engage in unnecessary vocal back-and-forths. She doesn’t run over to the fence just to show her strength and protect her image. She doesn’t wag her tail to convince them to change their minds and like her. She just carries on.

I, on the other hand, pay a disproportionate amount of attention to barking–even when the source has no real power over me. The enemy of my soul growls a discouraging lie and I consider giving up on my dream. A criticism comes in from the far corners of the internet and I think about throwing my computer out the window. An offhand remark from an acquaintance hits a tender spot and I bristle.

I’m in a season of reevaluating where and how I spent my energy and emotion. I find myself often asking this simple, hard question about each choice I make: Is this really worth it? And when it comes to responding to the barking that comes from behind fences the answer is clearly this: Nope, it’s not.

If you hear barking ask yourself this:

Can this actually hurt me or is this simply triggering my fear?

What will it cost me to engage in this?

What do I risk missing out on if I get sidetracked by this right now?

I keep going back to the same passage in Hebrews 12 a lot lately:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I always thought of those in the “great cloud of witnesses” as cheering us on. And, mostly, I hope they are. But I think the real point is this: there will be all kinds of spectators in the race of your life and your job is to simply persevere and keep moving forward with your eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter what anyone else says or does.

In other words, pay no attention to that barking from behind the fence.

It’s not worth it. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

You have places to go. You have dreams to pursue. You have a purpose to fulfill.

Your Master is beside you. And in the end, nothing else really matters.

Carry on, wise and brave friend…

XOXO

Holley Gerth

{enjoy more encouragement like this in You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dreams}

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The Wild Art of Dreaming

 

Hearts photo by Stephanie Ackerman

photo by stephanie ackerman…check out her fabulous site!

Last week I got to share about God-sized Dreams with a group of amazing women at Camp Create. As I stood up to speak the first night I confessed, “Creating art used to scare me silly. I wouldn’t even go near a hot glue gun.”

My fear came from a false belief that there was a right way to make art and that the end result had to be perfect. A few months ago I did an art journaling class that set me free. And I came to understand this: creating art and dreaming aren’t that much different. And they’re both good for our souls. Here’s what I mean…

Creating art and dreaming both require giving up control. Things never turn out the way you picture them in your mind. This can be wildly frustrating and incredibly freeing all at once. Art and dreams teach us to let go and trust.

Art and dreaming also both mean getting messy. We have to get our hands and hearts right into the middle of it all. Neither one are spectator sports. They’re not about perfection but instead growth and beauty.

Art and dreaming are more about the journey than the destination. We may think we want a certain outcome but what really benefits us most is the actual doing and becoming that happen along the way.

Art and dreaming are unique to each of us. No two people will create the same thing or have exactly the same goal. We reflect the wonder and glory of the God who created us when we open ourselves to one-of-a-kind expressions.

Art and dreaming both involve fear. And the only way to become braver is to put ourselves in situations where we feel fear and do it anyway.

Art and dreaming aren’t necessary for surviving…but they’re essential for thriving. They make us come alive deep down inside.

We are works of art made by God. We are living dreams that began in His heart. Creativity isn’t something that belongs to a few of us–it’s an essential part of all of us.

Make art.

Dream.

Be.

Wherever you are today.

In whatever way you can.

Even when you feel afraid.

You have beautiful gifts to offer the world that only you can create. 

How do you enjoy expressing your creativity? What helps you dream?

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. If you’d like encouragement for your dreams, my books You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dream can help.

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The Wild Mysterious

Hey You, Courageous Girl, the one standing with your toes dipped into the edge of the divine dream that’s been placed on your heart. The one glancing over your shoulder and wondering what everyone will think if you dive into the deep. The one poised on the edge of one of the most powerful heart moments of your life.

Go for it.

Dive into the Dream by Holley Gerth

{all the images I create are yours to use, enjoy and share however you’d like}

Will people understand? Nope.

Will they cheer? A few yes, most no.

Will you get a trophy, or better yet, a crown? Not in this lifetime.

We as humans, especially as women, long to be understood. We love to hear, “I get it” and “me too” and “I know just what you mean.” But we serve a God of the wild mysterious.

I few years ago I confessed to a friend that this was my worst fear: Having my heart misunderstood. And that fear has come true. Over and over. And despite my best efforts, it will happen again. I’ve come to understand being brave and courageous means moving forward when no one–including you–has a clue where you’re truly going.

If you try to make everyone understand, you will stand still all your life. So leap into the fear, step into the spotlight, dive into the dream.

Lay down your desire to have everyone’s approval.

It’s the hardest and most freeing thing you’ll ever do.

And tomorrow you’ll have to do it again.

Recently I whispered, “God, I’m so tired of what you’re doing in my life making no sense.” In response I sensed what I really needed to know most: He is with me. Even if I can’t see the whole plan he can. And he loves me. That’s truth beyond what I can comprehend…or anyone else can either. And it’s all I really need to know.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

 

p.s. I’m excited about this…

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