The Sacrifices We Make (Diet for Dreamers)


“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” (J M Barrie, Peter Pan)

When we devised the title of this series, our thoughts ran along these lines: to accomplish anything in life, we need proper nutrition, and to achieve certain goals we need certain foods. A bodybuilder needs extra protein, a runner needs more carbs, and someone wanting to lose weight needs … uh, less of everything that’s truly delicious! This last example seems unfair, doesn’t it? But until someone invents a pill that consumes excess fat, a dieter will have to stick to his or her diet — which means sacrificing desserts.

Anyone who’s trying to achieve great things also needs a special diet: Inspiration to feed the dreams, encouragement to foster the creativity; organization and strategy to make the most of time, talent and resources; and steadfast faith and a deep passion for the goal or dream, both of which can fuel a person all the way to the finish line — all the things we’ve discussed since we began this series.

And some dietary sacrifices will have to be made, and that’s never easy; which is why many people quit — or cheat too often and too much. Diets only work if we’re willing to stick with them. Although occasionally we do need to give in to a craving in order to keep our sanity, most of the time we have to resign ourselves to sacrificing the foods we love (in the case of a nutritional diet) or the activities we love (in the case of a dreamer’s diet).

Writers, artists, actors and musicians who achieve a level of virtuosity, entrepreneurs who exceed their goals, researchers and inventors who make great breakthroughs, visionaries who change the world, and even people who build solid marriages and raise well-adjusted kids, all do so because they stick to their diets … and that usually means sacrificing certain things.

We have friends who — during their spare time — watch tons of television, or play video games almost non-stop, or participate in any number of other leisure activities. These people are relaxing and doing what they enjoy most, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We, on the other hand, want to achieve our goals, so we need to make the most of our time. (Personally, we’re always working on our books, articles and stories.) We can’t walk away from our day jobs, family responsibilities, and social obligations; and we have to take time to eat, sleep and shower, so what’s left usually goes to pursuing our dreams.

In other words, we sacrifice our leisure time — and that’s tough. Well, we all know dieting isn’t easy, but if we want to fit into our pants or achieve our dreams, we resign ourselves to making sacrifices.

We used to teach adult Bible classes for both singles and married couples. We wanted to do this, and we wanted to make a difference in the lives of our students. We wanted to give our best efforts to this pursuit, and that meant hours of personal study and course outlining. We had other responsibilities on week nights after work, and all day on Sundays, so we had to devote our Saturdays (our only “day off”) to preparing for our weekly class. Hence, we had to sacrifice our only opportunity to read and relax, or go for a walk and have a picnic.

We won’t lie, sacrificing our down time continues to be a challenge; and sometimes, seeing others at play while we toil away at extra (and optional) tasks can be a little irritating. But we keep reminding ourselves that, if we are to accomplish something — any thing — worthwhile, we need to stay on our diets and continue to sacrifice activities that could ruin our progress.

Can you relate? Do you find yourself getting a little envious of people relaxing while you’re working, training, studying, tinkering, analyzing, researching, practicing, or honing? Remind yourself, if you’re pursuing a goal then you’re simply paying the price. You need a certain diet with built-in sacrifices. Stick to it, and stop begrudging the guy next door who’s playing Candy Crush all day long. Your diet and sacrifices will make you a lean mean dreaming machine, and someday you will achieve great things! And the guy next door? He’s happy with his diet of computer games, and perhaps someday he’ll be the best Candy Crush player in the neighborhood!

Pay the price today, so you can celebrate tomorrow. It’s the diet we choose for ourselves, and the sacrifices we make to succeed. “…I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8 Berean Study Bible) “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)


Know What You’re CUT Out For? (Angel in the Kitchen)

“We’re all pretty sharp at something.” But this guy isn’t exactly cut out for working in a deli.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place.” That’s the key to being organized, but it’s also the key to unity and harmony within any type of community or family. Everyone one of us has a special place in this world, a special calling, talent, role to play. We previously stated that people are like knives in a knife block. We’re all pretty sharp at something, but we were each uniquely designed to perform one or two special functions extremely well; and we all need to work at fitting in: we need to find our slot.

For steak? You’re kidding me!

Imagine trying to cut your steak with a cheese knife. Good luck with that. Or imagine peeling a potato with a butcher knife. Goodbye fingers. We all know we need to select the right tool for the right job, right? But have any of you ever tried to use a butter knife to pry the lid from a paint can, or to tighten the screws on something? Wouldn’t it be easier (and safer) to grab the right tool? Sometimes, we know exactly which knife we need for a job, go to reach for it, and … it’s not where it’s supposed to be. So we either stop cooking long enough to locate it, or improvise and use a different knife. (Sometimes, after improvising, we also need to find a bandaid.) That’s why a kitchen runs so much more smoothly when we understand the purpose of each specialized piece of cutlery, and we keep each piece properly positioned in the right slot of the knife block.

Apply this to work, church, family, or any organization. Organizations need to be … ahem, organized. Especially families. Within a group, the members need to know who’s good at what, and then assign each task to the person best capable of doing it. And that person should be available when needed. Families run smoother when there’s a fair and logical division of labor: everyone has a job, everyone knows whose job is what, and everyone is playing his or her part. Dads have a slot that moms will find hard to fill, or vice versa. In church, teachers shouldn’t be playing the organ, greeters shouldn’t be handling the finances, and pastors don’t have time to type up the bulletin.

Folks, specializing is not a dirty word. It allows the most efficient use of time and talent, keeps things orderly and running smoothly, and enables everyone to play a part and discover their gifting. Would you want a podiatrist examining your eyes? Of course not. So, find the slot where you best fit, and be there when you’re needed. Maintain your “family” group the way you would your knife block: a place (role/task/function) for everyone, and everyone in his or her proper slot.

One last thought: “…God is not the author of confusion, but of peace….” (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJB) So then: “…Be sure that everything is done properly and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40 NLT)

After all, if you haphazardly toss all your knives into a kitchen drawer, the resulting jumble of blades is not a good situation, at all. When you need a specific knife for a task, you’ll waste a good deal of time sorting through the chaos, and you may even slice a knuckle or two. Meanwhile, the knifes themselves will probably start rubbing each other the wrong way. A few will grow dull. Some may even get bent out of shape. Just saying.