Archives For dreams

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an astronaut.  Seriously, the thought of blasting into space and exploring the “final frontier” was an amazing dream I had for a few years.  Now, I’m quite content to have my feet firmly on the surface of the earth.

Over the years, I’ve had many other dreams.  I’ve dreamed about the possibility of writing a book (a dream that came true with my first book – On Track).  I’ve dreamed about the possibility of going to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona (a dream that did not come true).

I think there is something positive about having dreams and desires for our lives.  These dreams give us reasons to live intentionally.  They give us an avenue to escape from some of the realities we face in our everyday existence.  Dreams can give us hope for what is yet to come.

Sometimes our dreams and desires get twisted and tangled.  Maybe we let the dreams of our parents become our dreams.  Or maybe we look at the “perfect” world of those on television or in the movies thinking our lives would be better if we were just like them.  And sometimes we simply chase after the wrong things.

One of the things I love about going on a short-term missions trip is that they always seem to have a way of recalibrating my dreams and desires.  Besides expanding your community and changing your perspective, they have a tendency to adjust the way you think about the future.

For example, my dream of building 100 houses in Guatemala for widows and their families didn’t just appear suddenly while I was working at my job in Blue Bell, PA.  This dream and desire came about as a result of spending time in Guatemala serving widows and orphans.  My short-term missions trip experience in Guatemala allowed me to see the impact a house could have on a family, and I wanted to replicate that for other families.

Last year while our family was coming home from Guatemala, Leanne and I made a decision to sell our house, so we could live more, save more, and give more.  After an unsuccessful attempt at selling our house this spring, we remain committed to seeing how this plays out in the coming year.  We believe the dream and desire to downsize was not placed on our hearts by accident, and our trips to Guatemala for short-term missions were instrumental in recalibrating our dreams and desires in this way.

When you go on a short-term missions trip, you open yourself up to the possibility of new dreams and desires that go way beyond your wildest expectations.  And they go way beyond your self-centered, normal way of thinking.

If you like to dream but need to dream bigger, you should consider going on a short-term missions trip.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
Colin Powell

How has the practice of serving others impacted your dreams and desires?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


What are you waiting for?

What have you been putting off?

What brilliant idea have you had that never came to fruition because you failed to act?

Many of us have big ideas and big dreams, but that is all they ever are because we don’t take action.

Since I wrote my first book two years ago, I’ve had many people come up to me and respond with amazement.  The possibility of writing a book is an idea that many have had, but it typically never happens.  Perhaps, our ideas don’t go beyond the idea stage, because we are afraid – afraid to fail, afraid to face ridicule, or even afraid to succeed.  Perhaps, our ideas don’t go beyond the idea stage, because we don’t know where to start.  We get too caught up in the business of creating the perfect plan of attack that we develop a paralysis of analysis.

When I wrote my first book, it started as an idea.  I could have put things on hold, because I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up to other authors I know and respect.  I could have put things on hold, because I didn’t know anything about the publishing world.  I could have put things on hold, because I had “better” things to do with my time.

It’s time to put aside your excuses for not moving ahead with your dream or idea.  And it’s time to take action.  Action starts by taking the next step.  You don’t have to do it all at once.  One step leads to another and another and another.  Before you know it, your steps add up to significant progress in making your dreams a reality.

To see what I’m talking about, watch this Huffington Post video about Thomas C. Knox.  He had an idea to help connect with people, and he took action.  I love his quote toward the end of the video:  “Quite frankly, I just thought it was something cool to do, and I did it.”

What is one idea or dream you have?  What’s your next step in making your idea or dream a reality?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How To Set Right-Sized Goals

December 29, 2015 — 4 Comments


If your goals don’t scare you, you aren’t thinking big enough.

Michael Hyatt

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

H. Jackson Brown

The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.

Jim Rohn

Like many of you, I have been doing a lot of thinking about my goals for 2016 and my dreams for the future.  I’m thinking about where I want to be this time next year.  I’m thinking about various aspects of my life where I want to focus – family, finances, faith, fitness, career, etc.  And I’m taking time to write things down.  Sometimes I wonder if my goals and dreams are the right size.

Are your dreams big enough?

Are you setting goals that will stretch you to become a better person and accomplish more in 2016?

I think many of us fall into the trap of being too safe.  We are too timid with the plans we make for ourselves.  We must learn to be courageous dreamers.

I’m all about setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive), but I think we too often underestimate what is attainable and realistic.

As you ponder your goals and dreams for the future, I challenge you to look at these two verses:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of prayer in laying out your plans.  Without God, our plans will ultimately fail.

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

How do you know your goals and dreams are the right size?

For excellent reading on goal-setting, check out these articles:


When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What profession, career, or adventure did you dream of following?

I wanted to be a professional baseball player.  I wanted to be firefighter.  I wanted to be an actor.  I wanted to be a pharmacist.

I thought – even dreamed – of becoming a missionary when I was younger.  I remember hearing the stories of missionaries as they visited our church.  They inspired me and captured my thoughts for days as I processed the possibility of this becoming a reality for me when I became an adult.

Those thoughts and dreams died – or at least lay dormant for a long time.  The responsibilities of raising a family and paying the bills got in the way.  The distractions of pursuing the American Dream diluted my childhood dreams to the point I forget my earlier hopes.

Maybe it’s time to rekindle those aspirations.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Act on your dreams!

What’s holding you back?  What dreams do you need to reawaken?  What is one step you can take to pursue your childhood dreams?


Have you seen the Prudential Retirement Challenge commercial?

Here it is to refresh your memory:

The commercial is designed to get you thinking about taking small steps today to create a larger retirement later.

Last week, I spoke at Grove City College on the topic of delegation, leadership, and legacy.  At the end of my presentation, someone asked me a question that went something like this:  “How do I lead and delegate effectively when people in my organization don’t seem to really care?”  The question as I remember it implied the hopeless feeling we can all feel at times when a desired outcome seems so far out of reach.  I referenced the above Prudential commercial in my response.  I talked about how taking small steps can be the catalyst for major change down the road.

What are your dreams?  What are your big, scary, audacious dreams and goals?

Don’t think small here.  Think GIGANTIC!

What do you want to accomplish in your life?

Maybe you want to build 100 houses in Guatemala.  Okay, this is one of my dreams.  Maybe you want to become a doctor.  Maybe you want to become a pilot.  Maybe you want to write a book.

When we look at these dreams, it can be easy to become discouraged.  How in the world are we ever supposed to achieve these targets we set for ourselves?

What would happen if we started looking at our targets – our hopes – our dreams – a little differently?

What if we saw these dreams in terms of small steps we can take today that will push us closer to realizing our dreams down the road?  I call this the Discipline of Small Steps.  This is a concept I mentioned first on Tammy Helfrich’s Right Where You Are Podcast a few weeks ago.  The idea of small steps makes a lot of sense when you step back and think about it.

Just like your retirement savings can grow to large figures when you practice small steps – or small deposits, you can achieve your big, crazy dreams by practicing small steps.  You don’t build 100 houses in Guatemala all at once.  You build 100 houses one at a time.  I would even argue that you build 100 houses one cinder block and one piece of wood at a time.

What small step can you take today that will get you closer to your big dream in the future?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments.


Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman

What happened to your childhood dreams?

When I was a kid, I was an entrepreneur and a salesperson.  I sold all kinds of things door to door in my neighborhood – greeting cards, gift wrap, newspapers, and hoagies.  I made money providing lawn and snow removal service up and down my street.  I had dreams of starting a company that did this or that.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped selling, and I stopped dreaming these dreams.  Part of it was my perceived responsibility to provide for my family.  And part of it was a fear of failure.  My first job out of college left me somewhat sour to the path of the entrepreneur.  I worked long hours and saw promises broken when one of the business partners decided to make decisions apart from the other partner that led to the destruction of the company.

Ever since, I have been content to work for a large company.  I have grown in my career and even flourished over time.  I am happy with my job, and it seems to be the right fit at least for now.

More recently, I have had the desire to create something.  Writing and speaking has become a way to fulfill this desire.  I create almost daily here on the blog through my writing, and I am in the midst of creating with my voice through speaking opportunities at my local Toastmasters International club and beyond.

It’s good to have dreams, and it’s good to find ways to be creative.  Don’t let the pressures and pulls of life take you away from dreaming.

What dreams did you have when you were a kid?  What happened to those dreams?  Are any of these dreams still alive?

How To Have The Best Dreams

October 13, 2014 — 4 Comments

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.
James Dean

People are always talking and writing about dreams.  I think it can be healthy to dream and to have big dreams for the future.  But it can be discouraging when the dreams don’t come true.  Maybe we don’t always have the best dreams.

What if I told you the secret to having the very best dreams?

A short-term missions trip can be the catalyst for developing a vision for the future.

Shortly after returning home from my last trip to Guatemala last summer, I took time to write down some of these visions or dreams in a post titled “Guatemala Dreams.”  These visions and dreams are great, but they often fall to the wayside when we return to the pushes and pulls of everyday life off the mountain.

Keeping these dreams and visions alive can be a real challenge.  I look at this list, and I remain hopeful that they will be realized over time.

And yet, I’m reminded that it is so important that these dreams are birthed out of a vision from God.  Knowing God’s vision for me will only truly happen as I seek to know Him.

I still have these Guatemala Dreams, but I see how I must pursue Him first… then all these things will be added unto me….

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33

And this is how you will have the best dreams!

What are you dreaming about?  How do you know you are having the best dreams?



When Are We Going Back?

August 25, 2014 — 2 Comments


When are we going back?

When will we return to Guatemala?

This is a question that is already running through my head, and it’s a question we are getting from our friends and family.

The truth is this – we don’t know yet.

I dream of going back to Guatemala twice a year.  I’d love to go back this year between Christmas and New Year’s.  But there are things that stand in the way:  money, a need to travel to see extended family, family commitments at home, and a desire for a family vacation for the four of us.

And so the question of when we are going back remains an unanswered mystery.

We’d appreciate your prayers for discernment as we consider this decision.

What question(s) in your life is a mystery?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33

Kickstart A Dream

August 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

Guatemala 2013 741

In Guatemala the past three years, I have had the privilege of working with an unbelievable servant and his family.

Three years ago, German Espana came to Dave Sgro of GO! Ministries and asked a simple question:  How can I help?

German was unemployed at the time, and he had a huge heart for the people of his village, Santo Domingo Xenacoj.  He did not want to sit around doing nothing while he waited for a job opportunity to open up, so he volunteered his time.

I didn’t interact with German a lot the first year, but I could see that he was a hard worker.  He coordinated stove installations for 75 widows in the village.  He personally interviewed each of the 175 widows in the village to make sure the stoves made it into the homes of those who most needed them.  He delivered the materials to each home, and he made sure each installation team had the tools and supplies necessary to install the stoves properly.

Then last year, I saw a whole new side of German as our family worked more closely with him and his family serving children and widows in the village with meals for the children and a special gathering for the widows.  Our family had a real opportunity to see German’s heart as he served and prayed with the needy people in his community.  At this point, GO! Ministries had hired German on as a member of their team.  I’m not sure how much they paid him, but I think it still left him struggling to meet the needs of his family which included his wife, Susie, and six children.  None the less, German worked hard and always seem to have a spirit of trust that God would provide for the needs of his family.


This year, was a continuation of what we experienced last year.  German and Susie opened up their home for our meal times.  We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner in their house every day.  We spent time laughing and playing with their family.  And I had more opportunity to talk with German on a one-on-one basis.  His heart continues to pour out for the broken and hurting people of his village.  He literally is taking the food from his table and the clothes from his back to feed and clothe the people of Xenacoj.


During our time together, he shared with me the struggle his family has had financially.  He confessed his fear in continuing to provide for his family and for those in need in his village.  He also shared some of his dreams.  He hopes to start a church one day in his village.  He also shared that he and his wife Susie have been praying about ways they could provide more effectively for their family.  One of the ideas or dreams they have is to build a restaurant in the front of their house – a place where people can gather for a very good meal and time with friends and family.  A place where their family can earn money to provide for themselves and others.  I’ve tasted Susie’s cooking, and I know she could attract many.  And I think this dream has real potential to help German and Susie stay on their feet and serve Xenacoj more effectively.

Here’s the thing:  It will take some funding to build out the front of their house in order to make this a reality.  German shared that it would probably cost about 10,000 quetzals in order to make this a reality.  When we were in Guatemala a couple of weeks ago, one U.S. dollar was worth about 7.8 quetzals.  If you do the math, you can see German and Susie need about $1,300 to take the next step in making this dream a reality.  Since we left them a few weeks ago, they applied for a loan with a bank.  They were turned down based on German’s income.  (Honestly, I think this may have been a huge blessing as I’m sure they didn’t need to take on any debt.)  What if there is another way?  Wouldn’t it be cool if we could help them kickstart their dream?  I checked out the rules of Kickstarter, and I don’t think this scenario fits into their rules, but maybe there is something we could do to help out.  If you are interested in making this Guatemalan dream a reality, let me know.  (And if we somehow get more than $1,300, I’m sure Susie could use it to fit out her kitchen.)

Have you ever had a dream?  Have you ever needed a little help from someone else to make your dream a reality?  Tell us about it in the comments. 


I have always liked building things.

When I was a toddler, I started building things with my Playskool wooden building blocks.  From there, I moved to Lincoln Logs.  I build many log cabins with my Lincoln Logs.  The natural next step was LEGO building blocks.  My favorite thing to build with LEGO blocks was houses.  I built one-story houses, two-story houses, and even taller houses.  For a little while I built “dog houses” with pieces of scrap wood from my Dad’s workshop.

For me, there is something fun and energizing about building things.

When I was considering a possible career choice, I definitely considered architecture.  As a fan and student of math and science, it’s natural I would pursue engineering as my career path.

My engineering career has brought me into some amazing building in the New York City and Philadelphia area.  I’ve been in the top ten floors of the Rockefeller Center, the orchestra pit of the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the basement hallways under the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the roof top of Liz Claiborne headquarters.  I’ve been in data centers, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, and pharmaceutical laboratories.  These are all buildings I’ve helped to build in some form or another.

When I had the opportunity to help build a house in Guatemala two years ago, I was definitely in my element.  This experience two years ago in Xenacoj was the spark that reignited my passion and dreams for building.  There was something truly special about building something for someone else.  I still remember the feelings of watching a family as they received a new house.  I want to participate in changing the lives of more families.

With this in mind, I dream of building 100 homes in Guatemala.  (This is one of the dreams I shared in yesterday’s post about Guatemalan Dreams.)

This summer, our family had the opportunity to build two more homes for two families.  There was something amazing about giving this kind of gift to a family.  They were definitely appreciative.

Achieving this kind of dream doesn’t happen by accident, and it definitely doesn’t happen with the help of many, many people.


The two houses we built this summer were built by the generous financial donations of many friends and families.  They were built by German Espana who coordinated the efforts in Guatemala.  They were built by several local workers who helped with concrete work, roofing, electrical work, and framing.  They were built by family members who helped on the job site by debarking the wood paneling and cleaning up sawdust.  They were built by Gregory Espana who skillfully constructed doors and windows for the homes.  They were built by other members of our team who dealt with blistered and sap-stained hands to make sure the wood for the walls looked as good as possible.  And they were built by Dave Sgro, founder of GO! Ministries, who encouraged our family to pursue this dream.

It takes a village – a community – to make a real difference for others.

In order to make my dream a reality, I’ll have to find a way to build 97 more houses.  This won’t happen through my efforts.  It will take others jumping on board and joining the dream.

So here’s my question:  Will you take part in my dream?  What role might you like to play in making this dream a reality?

What’s your dream?  What help from others do you need to make your dream a reality?