Your Dream. God's Plan. Free Extended Preview: Are You Longing for Something More?
Your Dream. God's Plan. Free Extended Preview: Are You Longing for Something More?

Your Dream. God's Plan. Free Extended Preview: Are You Longing for Something More?

by Tiffany Smiling, Margot Starbuck

FREE

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944836368
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/12/2017
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 35
Sales rank: 65,476
File size: 218 KB

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THE DAY EVERYTHING CHANGES

Because our time on this earth is fleeting, every moment matters.

"So how was it?" Jordan gushed as she got into my car, dropping her purse and bag in the backseat beside mine. "Your tan looks fabulous!"

Though I'd promised myself I wouldn't brag about the cruise, I couldn't keep a broad grin from exploding across my face.

I admitted, "It was awesome. Perfect weather most days and delicious food."

"Did you and Gentry find dresses today?" Jordan asked. She knew my sister and I had both been nominated for homecoming court and had looked for dresses in downtown Tulsa.

"We saw a few things we liked but didn't buy anything," I said. "We might try again this week. And if we have to go to Dallas next weekend, we can."

Jordan and I pulled into the restaurant parking lot to meet some of our guy friends right at six o'clock.

As I got out of the car, something felt off with my body. I couldn't quite place it, but I knew something wasn't right. It felt sort of like a pulse of energy, like before a sneeze, but it didn't itch and it didn't hurt. It just felt weird.

We walked thirty feet to the door, and as we entered we saw the guys in line. They were next up to order. Waving us over, they suggested we jump in and order ahead of them.

Stepping up to the counter, I told Jordan, "I don't feel good ..."

Before she could ask for details, I started shaking. Without any control over my body, I fell forward, hitting my forehead on the restaurant's ceramic counter. The blow caused me to fall backward, knocking my head on the hard red tile floor.

Conscious and alert as it was happening, I knew I was having a massive seizure.

Jordan dropped to the floor, asking me what had just happened, but I was unable to tell her. The guys stood stunned. Though I'd known them all for years, none of them had ever seen me have a seizure.

My muscles tightened and my limbs seized with jerky motions. As my head hit the restaurant's red tile repeatedly, I could feel my brain shaking in my skull. And though my head was spinning and everything was becoming blurrier and blurrier, I was still aware of what was going on.

I tried to speak. In my head I was saying the words, "I'm having a seizure. Hold my head. Call 911. Call my mom."

But the sounds I heard passing through my lips weren't even intelligible. Awkward animal-like syllables gargled from my throat.

Incoherent utterances, "Ahh, agghh, ahh," were all that came out.

A crowd quickly gathered to watch the girl in the royal-blue dress lie on the floor convulsing. The store manager came over, children gawked, and a woman who'd been eating with her family, identifying herself as a nurse, bent down to protect my head.

As if at the end of a long, echoing tunnel, I heard Jordan instructing, "Someone call 911!" I saw several people pick up their phones to make the call.

My vision and hearing continued to diminish. After about ninety seconds, I blacked out.

WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGES

Nurses were standing over me, taking my pulse and checking a fluid drip, when I awoke. Small engines whirred, and monitors beeped at regular intervals.

The first thing I remember is pain. I'd chipped my jawbone and had a concussion on the back of my head.

My mom was sitting by my bedside. Groggy from the drugs I'd been given, I could feel her hand on mine and hear her offering the nurse bits of my medical history.

"Tiffany has had cancer since she was ten.... She's been operated on three times.... Her last surgery was three years ago at St. Jude's.... She hasn't had a seizure since then.... No, she's not taking any medication now...."

And although she didn't say it, I know my mom and I were both thinking the same thing: we just returned from a cruise celebrating my full recovery yesterday.

Even in my drugged haze, the irony wasn't lost on me.

I'd been given the Caribbean cruise by the Make-A-Wish Foundation several years earlier when I'd been too sick to use it. Because my seizures had stopped after my last surgery, we believed I was healthy. And all of my postoperative checkups had been full of good reports. My family had finally decided to take the cruise during the fall of my sophomore year in high school.

I glanced at the clock on the wall of my hospital room and, noticing a dark sky outside the single window beside my bed, realized it was eight at night. It seemed absurd to calculate that we'd been in Haiti two days earlier and had only docked in Miami the previous evening.

It was hard for me to process what was happening, and not just because of the sedatives. I knew my mom and I were both wrestling to piece together the disparate narrative, struggling to understand how our joyful celebration of life could have been so quickly extinguished.

Was it a mistake? Was this all just a really bad dream?

In all my wonderings, the one place I never let my mind go was death. I couldn't. I wouldn't.

What did upset me was that I'd finally regained some sense of equilibrium in my life. Because I had been seizure-free, I was gaining more independence. I'd just turned sixteen and been allowed to drive. I finally felt "normal." But the second I fell to the floor at Taco Bueno, I knew everything had changed. I understood that all the gains I'd made had been snatched away in that instant.

After the nurse left, my mom tilted her face toward mine. "Honey, your dad's on his way home. You just rest. We'll figure this out. God's got this."

I knew she was right, but we still didn't know what "this" was.

I closed my eyes and drifted out of consciousness once more.

MINUTES, HOURS, DAYS MATTER

When I was sixteen, I can't say that I'd lived the kind of life that would matter in eternity. Not surprisingly, my desires were like those of a lot of my peers: I wanted to look good when I went to school; I wore makeup and curled my hair. I appreciated an outfit that was put together well and had all the right designer labels. My family traveled often, and I had grown to love nice vacations. And the dream in my heart for my future looked similar to the life I was living.

Then suddenly, by circumstance, I became more keenly aware than many teenagers that our lives on this earth are fleeting. Although I tried to push the thought out of my mind, I realized I didn't know how many more birthdays I'd see. Life became fragile, and time became important. Every minute was a treasure.

Yet, although my circumstances were dire, I never feared death. I'd given my life to Jesus on Valentine's Day in kindergarten. He'd been an important part of my life since then, but now I became more aware of the gift I'd been given. As I felt the near grip of death, I began to realize, even more deeply, that He'd sacrificed His life so that I could live forever. He traded His death for my living.

The story we've been told since we were girls is that we'll be happy, or "full of life," when we project a certain image, earn more money, improve our social status, get our dream guy, own the house, have the kids, and grow our pile of possessions. It's what I believed, and maybe it's what you've believed, too. In themselves, those aren't bad dreams. When God offers them as gifts, we can receive them with grateful hearts.

But I've become more and more concerned about the ways our generation is using our time, money, and energy in pursuit of our own dreams and desires. To be fair, when we scramble after what we think will make us happy, we're doing exactly what we've been trained to do. Advertisers have promised that we'll be happy with a closet full of fabulous clothes. Social media promises that we'll feel fulfilled with a perfectly toned body, a beautiful family, and more "likes." Movies have promised we can find a flawless romance that will eliminate our insecurities. And yet, while the clothes, the guy, or the body might satisfy for a moment, dreams that fall short of God's plans leave us empty, hurting, broken, and lonely.

You were made for so much more. If you are a student or a single working woman or a missionary or a full-time mommy, there is a calling over your life that involves bringing light to the dark places — in university hallways, in work cubicles, in overseas villages, and in the rooms of your home. If you are willing to release your grip on the plans you've been holding for your life, God is waiting to show you His plan that is even better for you and for the people He loves.

Maybe my brush with death heightened my awareness of what matters most: the value of my time on this earth and the importance of living it to the full. Cancer or no cancer, though, each of us will find lasting satisfaction in the way we steward the years and days and minutes we've been given.

AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

When I awoke again, it was late Friday evening. Nurses bustled in and out of my room. Monitors beeped, and I noticed an IV in my arm.

My mom was still sitting beside my bed, and she noticed my eyes flutter open.

"Hi, sweetheart," she said, smiling bravely.

"Hi, Mom," I answered, noticing how dry my mouth was.

She assured me, "Dad's flying home from Chicago now. And the nurses say you could be released this afternoon if they can get you in for an MRI this morning."

"And do they know what happened?" I asked.

But I knew the answer even as I was asking the question. My condition was so rare that even the most elite surgeons in the nation had only seen six or seven similar cases throughout their careers. I knew I'd need to return to St. Jude's Children's Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

My mother said what I expected: "We'll have to go see Dr. Sanford."

Dr. Sanford, who practiced at St. Jude's, was the single surgeon who'd agreed to treat me after seeing my charts six years earlier. He'd last operated on me three years earlier. We trusted him completely.

"Can we wait until after homecoming?" I pleaded.

My mom explained, "You'll have an MRI, and then we'll see what Dr. Sanford says."

Though my mom kept a brave face, I heard the concern in her voice.

TIME MATTERS

Today, over a decade later, I remain more convinced than ever that every moment matters.

What about you? Do you believe you were made for a life that is really worth living? Are you convinced that God longs to use all of your experiences, passions, and gifts to accomplish His greater purpose — the very thing He created you to do? Maybe that "something more" your heart is longing for isn't clear right now. That's okay. As you offer yourself to God, as you release your life to Him, He will guide you to a life that's worth living.

The time we are living in is darker than we know; and our time on this earth is more valuable than we know. And at this moment, God is sparking a fire within His people "to fulfill his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). You are being prepared to serve and grow the kingdom in a specific way, using the unique gifts and passions and skills you've been given.

If you were raised in the US like I was, to dream of a comfortable future where all your needs and desires are met, the way of Jesus will seem radically different. It doesn't make sense in a culture where we're barraged daily by messages insisting that we deserve to be instantly satisfied. And yet I've learned firsthand that this unlikely way — the radically different way of Jesus — is the way to life that really is fulfilling.

GOWN AND CROWN

After Jordan had called my mom to meet us at the hospital, our family friend Dr. Reese, who happened to be on call at the hospital that evening jumped in to help. As a result, the staff had been ready to receive me before the ambulance had even arrived. Within an hour of my initial examination, I was being wheeled down the hallway toward radiology. I knew the route — the nurses' stations, waiting rooms, ceiling tiles — more intimately than I cared to. When we got to radiology, the transporter asked the technician if he should leave me in the waiting room or take me straight in. Per orders, he wheeled me right into the MRI room.

I knew the drill. The technician helped me slide over onto the MRI machine. After I lay down, she helped me settle into the best position. As I entered the machine, I knew to lie perfectly still and also to request the latest Rascal Flatts soundtrack to drown out the loud noise of the medical machinery.

As I lay in the worn hospital gown, surrounded by a crown of medical coils, I closed my eyes and focused on a different kind of crown and gown: homecoming was just two weeks away.

CHAPTER 2

ST. JUDE'S, WISHES, AND ENRIQUE IGLESIAS

Expect trials on the journey.

"Celebrate her birthday big this year."

Those words from the head neurosurgeon at one of the nation's leading cancer hospitals, spoken to my parents after I'd been asked to leave the room, were polite code for a death sentence.

As I approached my eleventh birthday, he'd just given me ten months to live.

He also refused to operate. Because the tumor was touching my motor strip, which controls the voluntary movements of skeletal muscles, he believed there was a greater chance he could hurt me than help me.

My parents, who believed in a God who was bigger than a doctor's report, and who didn't want to alarm me, assured me we'd continue searching for the right treatment.

THE SPOT

In the spring of fourth grade I began noticing odd sensations on the left side of my body. A tingling would begin in my leg, sort of like that feeling when your hand or foot falls asleep. The sensation would climb up the side of my body and down my left arm, then all the way up to my face, causing numbness.

Concerned, my mom made an appointment with our pediatrician. He sent us to a local neurologist.

An MRI showed a small spot on the right side of my brain, but doctors were unable to identify conclusively what it might be. It might be a tumor, they explained, but it could just as easily be a knotted blood vessel. Doctors just couldn't tell. Because they did identify the numbness I was experiencing to be small seizures, doctors put me on seizure medications and ordered an MRI every three months to monitor the irregularity. We also visited a doctor in Houston who determined that the "spot" over my right ear was lodged deep in the brain.

Deciding it was too risky to operate, the doctors decided to continue the quarterly MRIs.

I was completely embarrassed whenever I'd have seizures around others. As a quiet girl, very shy and reserved, I hated attention. And when these mini seizures would creep across my body, I wasn't able to speak. If I felt a seizure coming on when my friends and I were at a movie, I wouldn't dream of mentioning it. But when we'd be chatting at a slumber party, or hanging out together at the mall, it was harder to hide. I dreaded meeting my friends' eyes when they'd notice that I couldn't speak. When the seizure would pass and I could engage again, I tried to minimize it like it wasn't a big deal. But as a girl who wanted nothing more than to be normal, I'd always cringe a little on the inside.

Twenty months after the numbness began, an MRI revealed that the blood vessel we'd been watching was now leaking a small amount of blood. Now that I was at risk for an aneurysm, surgery was advised. But because there wasn't a pediatric neurosurgeon in Oklahoma in 2000, we decided to do our own research.

Disappointed but desperate, we did.

The attorney in my father's law firm who was responsible for securing medical records to prepare them for trial jumped in to help. He sent my MRIs to the top four neurosurgeons in the world. As we traveled across the country to meet these surgeons face-to-face, we always received the same response. Doctor after doctor turned us down. The dangerous surgery, they claimed, was just too risky. We appealed to doctors in the very best hospitals in the nation, but none were willing to operate. We even had an appointment scheduled with renowned Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson, but when he was diagnosed with his own cancer during that process, we weren't able to move forward.

Finally, a doctor agreed to take the risk to operate in an attempt to stop the leaking blood vessel in my brain. Dr. Robert Spetzler, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, specialized in cerebrovascular disease.

But even after we'd identified Dr. Spetzler, who agreed to treat me, we faced a maddening delay when our insurance company refused to refer the risky surgery, so I could not get admitted to the hospital.

Their decision wasn't one my father was willing to accept.

Just two days before Dr. Spetzler was scheduled to operate on me, my dad arranged a three-way call with Dr. Spetzler and our health insurance company.

When everyone had dialed in, my dad alerted all parties that the call was being recorded for his legal records.

Then he asked the world-renowned surgeon, "When I file a lawsuit against this company for refusing to let me get treatment for my dying daughter, Dr. Spetzler, will you testify as a witness?"

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Your Dream. God's Plan."
by .
Copyright © 2017 Tiffany Smiling.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Something Better Than Your Dreams,
Chapter 1: The Day Everything Changes Because our time on this earth is fleeting, every moment matters.,
Chapter 2: St. Jude's, Wishes, and Enrique Iglesias Expect trials on the journey.,
Chapter 3: The Devil's Hand Satan attempts to thwart God's dream.,
Chapter 4: Fighting My Way Back Our focus on the body isn't God's priority.,
Chapter 5: What a Girl Wants God's dream is different than our plans.,
Chapter 6: Eighteen Weddings and One New Love Comparing yourself and your story to others is deadly.,
Chapter 7: When God Speaks God invites us to walk out His plan with others.,
Chapter 8: My Comforts Exposed God exposes our privilege to move us to respond to pain.,
Chapter 9: Orphan Rave God calls you to serve Him where you are.,
Chapter 10: Every Yes Matters God uses our yes to bring life out of death.,
Chapter 11: Out of Excuses God asks us to sacrifice both our comfort and our resistance.,
Chapter 12: Bondye Nou Au Gran God is passionate about saving souls through the Gospel.,
Chapter 13: Life Interrupted God interrupts our plans for the sake of His.,
Chapter 14: Mother of Many God asks us to release our dreams for the sake of His.,
Chapter 15: What God Can Do God uses His people to execute His plans.,
Chapter 16: Embracing Your Purpose God has a good plan for you.,
Notes,
Discussion Questions,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Your Dream. God's Plan. Free Extended Preview: Are You Longing for Something More? 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ha
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the extended preview, one word amazing. Lately I have been battling with what the Lord has called me to do on this earth. I am still waiting to hear his voice, but I believe he will deliver.
chemil33 More than 1 year ago
Your Dreams, God’s Plans is a well written book about how God revealed His will and plans in the life of an ordinary young lady. She was ordinary in that she had the same dreams as any other young lady. Through the biography of her life changes, Tiffany challenges the reader to let go of the dreams and plans to achieve them. Trust God to reveal His plans to provide for achievement of His dreams for your life. Through the illustration of events in her life and struggles to be sold out to God, you can look at your own dreams and plans and begin to see what a difference God can make. It won’t be easy and Tiffany does not sugar-coat the challenges. The thing I like most about the book is that it does not jam down your throat the have to do’s. You can make the choice to allow God to lead or not. It was a very interesting read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
CK119 More than 1 year ago
Your Dream. God’s Plan. By Tiffany Smiling with Margot Starbuck is an endearing and inspirational story of how to put God’s plans ahead of our own. Tiffany was first diagnosed with brain cancer as a ten-year-old. She went through numerous treatments and surgeries in the quest to defeat the disease. Through it all she remained focused on God. Like most little girls she dreamed of growing up to have the handsome husband, beautiful house with the white picket fence and perfect children. God had another plan for her however. She found herself focusing on God’s will which led her to a vital ministry she could never have envisioned. Stepping out in faith she is living a life she never dreamed about. I couldn’t put this book down. Tiffany’s stories are very engaging and her insight into God’s plan for her and how we each can tap into God’s power for our own lives is inspiring. She tells the story in way that makes the reader feel she is speaking directly to them; it is not preachy and does not insinuate that everyone should follow her path. It made me look at my life and see where I need to make some changes. I give this book a 5 of 5 stars and recommend it to everyone. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
CK119 More than 1 year ago
Your Dream. God’s Plan. By Tiffany Smiling with Margot Starbuck is an endearing and inspirational story of how to put God’s plans ahead of our own. Tiffany was first diagnosed with brain cancer as a ten-year-old. She went through numerous treatments and surgeries in the quest to defeat the disease. Through it all she remained focused on God. Like most little girls she dreamed of growing up to have the handsome husband, beautiful house with the white picket fence and perfect children. God had another plan for her however. She found herself focusing on God’s will which led her to a vital ministry she could never have envisioned. Stepping out in faith she is living a life she never dreamed about. I couldn’t put this book down. Tiffany’s stories are very engaging and her insight into God’s plan for her and how we each can tap into God’s power for our own lives is inspiring. She tells the story in way that makes the reader feel she is speaking directly to them; it is not preachy and does not insinuate that everyone should follow her path. It made me look at my life and see where I need to make some changes. I give this book a 5 of 5 stars and recommend it to everyone. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
MelissaGH More than 1 year ago
Deeply moving and inspiring. The author has had many life struggles. God has a plan for her life and in living out that plan, the author is showing God's love and grace to others. Excellent book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. Also, I received a copy from Net Galley.