Lord, how greatly I need your rest. When I feel tired and stressed from the burdens of life, help me to remember that you are always with me and the comforter himself indwells my heart.

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A Little Think

Big Dreams!

When I was a kid, I heard people talk about "The Good Life," either having it or wanting it. I didn't know what that meant, but I assumed it was what we had. By my 20's, I had redefined "The Good Life" according to my grown-up set of values, heavily impacted by the culture. For a while, I aimed for a certain salary and a few materialistic securities as evidence of my good life. When those grew dull, I found goodness in a busy life devoted to family and volunteer activities. As the family needed me less and less, I branched out into professional activities and contacts. Eventually I didn't think about "The Good Life" so much, but it was shaping up all the time.

The older I get, the more aware I am of how easy it is to focus on what you don't have, what you will never get, and what you'll never be, and to let that focus steer you in the wrong direction. There's nothing like perspective to bring you back to the reality of how much good there is in life. That's why I like the saying by Claudette Colbert: "I've had a wonderful life. I only wish I'd realized it sooner!"

March is "Women's History Month," when we recognize notable women whose "wonderful lives" paved the way for us. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Dr. Ida Scudder, Corrie ten Boom, Ella Fitzgerald, Sally Reid, Wilma Rudolph, and Amelia Earhart are just a few who set the bar high. While it may not seem that all of these women lived "The Good Life," their lives and accomplishments certainly brought good to the lives of many other women-and men-who lived after them.

I remember being intrigued by stories of such a woman when I was a child. In the little Michigan township where we spent summers, signs laud Harriet Quimby, the young woman who inspired Amelia Earhart to fly. Harriet exemplified the successful, glass-ceiling-breaker woman of her day. She was educated, lived on her own, had an exciting career, drove her own car and smoked-all in the early 1900's! Harriet was a journalist and an actress who wrote seven screenplays and traveled as a photojournalist to Europe, Cuba, Mexico, and Egypt. Ultimately, she fell in love with flying and became the first licensed female pilot in the United States and a world class aviator.

In 1910, Harriet began taking flying lessons in secret, since women weren't supposed to be part of the man's world of flight. She was found out the following year-whether this was by design or by accident only adds to her mystique-and chose to write publicly about her love of flying. Through her writing, she advertised her flight over Staten Island, which 15,000 night sky watchers observed. In that same year, Harriet and her flight instructor's sister, the nation's second female licensed pilot, became the first women to fly over Mexico.

In March of 1912, Harriet sailed for England with one goal in mind: to be the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Two years earlier, Louis Bleriot had first accomplished this feat, and he shipped Harriet one of his monoplanes to help achieve her goal. Few others knew of her plans. She wanted to be the first and she didn't want anyone talking her out of this dangerous mission! One gentleman friend offered to fly in her place, land in a field, and exchange places with her so she could say she did it. Of course, Harriet refused. Harriet finished the flight in 59 minutes, traveling through foggy skies and landing in France. Her amazing journey went virtually unnoticed, though, because it was just two days after the Titanic sank and that news carried the day.

A humble Harriet went back to New York to continue exhibition flying. Sadly, tragedy ended her potentially brilliant career at age 37. On July 1, 1912, while flying in the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet, with the event organizer aboard, her brand new, 70-horsepower, two-seat Bleriot monoplane pitched forward, ejecting both passengers to their deaths in the shallow waters of Dorchester Bay in front of 5,000 stunned spectators. The plane itself wafted down, lodging in the mud. After decades of debate about the cause of the accident, the truth may never be known.

Only 11 months after seeing her dream of flying come true, the dreamer was gone. But not the dream, which inspired countless others who followed. One such dreamer was Amelia Earhart, who said Harriet was her hero: "To cross the Channel in 1912 required more bravery and skill than to cross the Atlantic today... We must remember that, in thinking of America's first great woman flier's accomplishment."

Harriet Quimby was an amazing woman. As a journalist and adventurer, she took on issues of her day, including child welfare and political corruption in New York City. She helped to change stereotypes about women's abilities. Harriet wrote an article, published posthumously, about how there was no reason women couldn't fly "aeroplanes" for transport of people and packages, take photographs from above or even teach flying lessons. "Any of these things is now possible to do," she said. And today it is! If she lived today, she would have graced the cover of People magazine for her exciting and non-conformist lifestyle. For example, while the typical pilot flew in traditional gear, Harriet's trademark flight suit was a purple satin outfit with a hood.

What is your dream? What will you do that goes down in history? Before you dismiss your dreams, remember that you were designed by God, and His dream of you is now a reality. Take Him up on His offer to help. You may not be written up for Women's History Month years down the road, but you do leave a legacy for someone, maybe many "someones." How will they remember your history? Ask the Lord who says, "I know the plans I have for you..." and "I knew you before you were in your mother's womb!" As someone said, "With God and big dreams, you can't lose!"



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