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Sunday, August 12, 2018

It's All Right to Dream Small

Don’t let the tall weeds cast a shadow on the beautiful flowers in your garden. 
~Steve Maraboli

Dad had his psych evaluation last week. He was able to convey to his therapist what the cause of his depression was—“I can’t do anything for myself. I want to work in my garden, but I can’t,” he told her.

The therapistthe patient kindhad that quiet and gentle spirit making you believe that you were the only one that mattered. That wonderful woman had learned to cut down the shadow-casting weeds and find the beautiful flowers.

Her gaze was focused on Dad, smiling, and nodding her head with understanding as he labored to find the words. Her body language told us she had all the time in the world, inviting Dad to look at the garden view outside her office window. She reminded him to enjoy the garden he had created at home. “Sit, relax, enjoy it,” she told him.

Dad had a great time. Someone understood what he was going through. And Mom and I followed the therapist’s lead as we let him talk without interruption and were careful not to put our words in his mouth.

We were happy to make another appointment before we were on our way.

The drive home took us through Lake Matthews. It’s a winding desert road out in nowhere land but a closer look reveals a bountiful garden of cacti, succulents, and a beautiful lake. It’s a secret garden in plain view. Dad couldn’t get enough of it as he kept his eyes on the landscape.

For him, the simple joys of being in the great outdoors, or even driving through it, improved his state of mind. And a quick side trip to McDonald’s might as well have been an outing to Disneyland.

On our way home the song “Dream Small” came on the radio and it suddenly dawned on me. As caregivers, some of us feel like our big dreams are on pause and replaced with drives to doctors’ appointments, lab visits, psych evaluations, taking care of copayments, and so forth, while trying to take care of our own health. Perhaps some of us have given up on our dreams, which is a prickly path of weeds to tread on.

I realized quite early on in this caregiver journey that God had me right where I needed to be. And that he hadn’t stripped me of my dreams. Sure, we had to hit that pause button, but the more I read His Word, the more I discovered that He has a way of redeeming time as He did with the children of Israel in Joel chapter 2 when their crops, their life’s work, had been destroyed.

And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm … ~Joel 2:24, 25

God is well aware of our dreams; He has something amazing, something unexpected perhaps, waiting for us. In the meantime it’s okay to dream small, not just to get us through a day but to electrify our days—to make each day count and be fulfilling. Plant a garden of small dreams, and He’ll water those seeds to make the bigger dreams happen.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. ~Matthew 13:31, 32.

My friend Julie and I swim every day in the pool of her mobile home park. Once in a while an elderly gentleman, (we’ll call him Jack), comes for a quick dip in the pool. Jack has had two strokes and his wonderful daughter is his caregiver. She’s very patient and loving—a gift each caregiver should seek after.

Jack was struggling to keep afloat as he maneuvered around the pool’s edge. His daughter followed close behind, making sure he didn’t go under. I asked if he would like to use my noodle. He said yes. That simple gesture gave him so much joy that he cried as he kicked his way up and down the middle of the pool. His daughter couldn’t stop thanking us and promised she was going to buy him a noodle that night.

Sometimes you don’t have to look for opportunities to change a life, no matter how small you think that might be—like Mary Engelbreit says, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

So go ahead and dream small, beloved caregiver, live well and let God use you where you’ve been planted. Enjoy the following video by Josh Wilson.

Dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
Dream small
~Lyrics by Josh Wilson

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Lord, fill my days with small opportunities to spread joy in others. Help me to bloom where you have planted me. Help me to see the value in others, and to not do anything out of selfish ambitions. My eyes are on you; my dreams are in your capable hands. Give me patience and love to do good works which you have placed before me.

Beloved Caregiver

Cacti green with blooms of reds
Cup desert heat like flower beds
It breaks away from thirsting soil
To steal the rain, blessing the toil

Take my hand
Through desert sand
Discover streams
Of living dreams

A summer breeze I’ll send your way
When azure skies rule day by day
And far beneath the parch and rock
A rivulet appears in dock

The sparrow black with plumes of gold
Knows rain will come it’s been foretold
That not one thing will fade away
Creator’s beauty on display

(copyright 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)


  1. Love this, just what I needed to hear. I sometimes wallow in self pity about putting my life on hold, but I'm going to try to change my thinking. I know care giving is where the Lord wants me now, I'll focus on small dreams :-)

  2. I'm so glad this helped. Shifting our focus, putting our hearts and minds on God alone, is such a life changer. Doesn't mean it's easy all the time, but mind blowing when we do it. I pray for awesome small dreams for you, it's only a part of the bigger picture. Perhaps I should've said that for us it feels like life is on pause, but for the Lord it's all going according to his plan.