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I‘ve been a bit restless since the holidays. Don’t get me wrong—my lights are out when I hit our snowflake flannel sheets, and hard, and I’m a bit eager to start this new year with gusto. But there’s still something stirring in me a bit, and I’m honestly not quite sure what it’s all about.

Part of it is because we’re entering a season that’s naturally difficult for me—I’m not a fan of the non-Christmas side of winter, and here in central Oregon, we’ve got a long way to go till spring (there often isn’t a spring at all, snowing through May and plowing straight in to warm summer). And yes, this can affect my emotional well-being… but I feel like my restlessness has to do with something else.

I’m a planner by nature; I love to make goals and see them met, and though I’m not naturally competitive, I do like proving to myself that I can set my mind to something and call it Done (read X number of books this year; learn how to cook X—whatever). It means I can Get Stuff Done. But it also means it’s sometimes hard for me to live in the present.

There’s a place in life for dreaming, and dreaming big. But while we dream, there’s an equally valid spot at the table for learning to be present, to fully relish and savor each day as it comes. To do more than just survive the day-to-day, and to not live in a waiting room for the next season, checking off calendar boxes till the next big event.

To bravely wonder if we can act out our dreams, even while we embrace the present.

I love what my friend Jennie says about dreaming in her new book: “We are called to dream but we’re afraid to. But because we are called, when we don’t act on it we become restless—restless to find purpose, to make a difference in the world, to matter.”

I think there’s a formula here somewhere. That there’s deep, soul-satisfying value in savoring the present, but it needs coupling with the courage to dream, and to act on that dream.

Embracing the here and now + dreaming big = true, satisfying rest.

The dreaming part comes easy for me, admittedly. It’s the embracing of the present that’s a challenge, and so that’s the part of this equation where I’m challenged to channel my efforts these days.

For me, right now, being at rest means being at peace with where I am, right now, with all the good and not-so-good parts. This simplifies my soul, and it breathes in life renewed.


Jennie is giving five Art of Simple readers a copy of her new book, Restless.


To win a copy, simply leave a comment on this post! I’d love to hear what’s easier for you—dreaming big or embracing life in the here and now.

(If you’re reading this via email or RSS, please click over to the post to leave a comment directly on the blog.)

This giveaway will end Friday, and we’ll announce the winner soon after. I hope you win!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I find it easier to dream than to hold myself present….being in the moment is hard for me as I am a total planner.

  2. I have felt this tension my whole life and have been on a receiving journey, to embrace the gift of the present.

  3. Oh my goodness. I got chills when I read the words you quoted from Jennie’s book because they capture exactly why I’ve tried to avoid thinking much about my calling. As I’ve assessed the past year, I faced my tendency to live only in the “now” and have vowed that this year I will finally be courageous enough to move where God is calling me. So this book could not be more timely! Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

  4. I hate to admit it but it’s so much easier for me to dream big than it is to be present. Since I gave birth to my son ten months ago, I am trying my absolute hardest to embrace the here and now…so important!!!

  5. Definitely find it easier to dream. As an expat I never know when/where/how quickly we might have to move and I am always worrying ahead about that. Living in the here and now is something I really need to work on and that word ‘restless’ just hit me with force. That is exactly how I feel.

  6. I’m definately a dreamer. Oh, my..

  7. I think that it is easier to dream but it is living the present that I become more fulfill!

  8. Dreaming is definitely easier for me 🙂

  9. Hannah Ballou says:

    I often forget to be in the here and now while dreaming big. Wanderlust.

  10. I’ve had a book in my head for two years now about guilt and restoration. I know I am called to write it. I know what I have experienced in life has given me a special view of the world I am called to bring forth. I’ve taken steps to get it out and I am working on it slowly, but in between I am definitely restless. When I’m not working on it, I dream about it and form it in my mind. I’m really excited to learn more about Restless, seems like a great book for this time in my life.

  11. I can get submerged In the every day and need reminders to come up for air to see if I’m on course. Thankful for my big dreamer husband!

  12. Beautiful words, very true this time of year. Instead of doing big goals this year I’m working on monthly challenges, forcing me to be present. This month is de-cluttering the house.

  13. Oh, dreaming is way easier for me. Always working to be in the present!

  14. Marianne Campbell says:

    This looks like a good one. Hope I get to read it soon!

  15. Oh the winter is difficult. The fact that we’re physically stuck inside, makes us feel all the more stuck mentally. But the new year is starting and it’s nice for me to be able to focus on cleaning out closets and taking care of things inside my home.

  16. Allie Thomas says:

    Thank you for this post. As I read a bit before my toddler wakes up, I’m so aware that living in the present is tough for me. My to do list and wish-I-could-do list is miles long, and enjoying sweet silly daily moments with my little one is difficult.

  17. I feel like I can get stuck doing both and that I can avoid doing both. For example, due to painful events, I can avoid living in the present moment due to the grief and then because I’m hurting, I’m afraid to dream. I like the formula you shared… embrace + dream = rest Thanks for your encouragement this morning.

  18. Right now in this moment neither is easier. I am in a place that there is a restlessness inside of me and an anticipation that change is coming but I’m not sure what that looks like yet. I can try to dream about what this change might be but then I get overwhelmed at the possibilities so I try and live in the ‘here and now’ but the thoughts that what I currently know as ‘here and now’ won’t be my reality for long creep in.

  19. This hit home for me. I’m always looking toward the next “big thing”! Thank you for the reminder to embrace the present. There is a balance between dreaming big and staying present. I want to enjoy the details in my current life season. Thank you!

  20. Dreaming big is harder for me than embracing the present. Not that I’ve mastered the latter either, though!

  21. Wow. This is so me. A planner from birth, trying to live more in the here and now.

  22. I’m definitely a dreamer … I try really hard to be mindful of living in the now though it doesn’t come as easily!

  23. I often feel like I am just surviving. I don’t know whether that is because I dream too much and can’t seem to get my dream to match my reality, or whether I just need to accept the reality and live with it. You really have struck a deep thinking note with this post. Thank you!

  24. I have always been a planner and a longer-for-tomorrow. Right now is especially hard since our family hopes to be in Africa this year helping start a medical clinic for orphans and refugees. While all that entails swirls around my brain, I don’t want to miss these precious days with my kids while they are young (9, 7, 6, and 3) and the time we still have state-side with friends and family.

  25. I think I’m better at embracing the here and now because I have to. Dreaming is fine. I just never really set any plans in place to achieve them.

  26. These ideas bring light to some of what I’ve felt. I decided not to make year-wise goals, just not in a good place in life for those right now. But its left me feeling a bit restless, and I think as I embrace the each-day, I must learn to be okay thinking also about how to improve and dream. I’m figuring out how it looks in my life right now.

  27. Heather k M says:

    I find it easier to dream! This book sounds so good!

  28. I completely get your restless feeling. I get that way too after the holidays and before the next adventure. Somehow I can’t just let myself fully fall into a fallow time without feeling a bit twitchy!

  29. I completely understand your restless feeling. I’ve been feeling the same thing ever since I turned the calender over to 2014. I find it easier to dream big and not live in the here and now, although my dreaming often takes a negative turn into anxious worry about the future, which prevents me from living fully in the present.

  30. Restless or stuck what I feel, I have dreams!

  31. Rachel Cook says:

    I’m an in the moment girl! But I want to dream BIG and live huge for the Lord! Jennie Allen’s book Anything kicked my tail in a good way. Can’t wait to read Restless!

  32. I’m a planner/dreamer…hard to stay I the present. Looking forward to reading the book!

  33. Dreamer. But so demanded in the here and now.
    When you’re lost, trying to find your way out of the woods, do yo stay on a path that’s sure, or trust your inner compass to take you on steps of faith in a direction unforeseen?

  34. I’m a dreamer. In my current phase of life I have four little ones four and under. Time and energy are precious, and so I often make the necessary choice to live out the daily reality of one big dream and give up the possibilities, at least for a time, of other big dreams. It can lead to restlessness, for certain!

  35. Oh there is so much here I can relate to…the time of year, season of life as a SAHM, all combine to give me a restless feeling sometimes for more….but the Audrey Assad song says it well “I’m restless til I rest in You, Oh God.” I’d love to read more in this book.

  36. It is far easier for me to dream than to be present-unfortunately.

  37. I’m pretty good at appreciating & enjoying NOW, I need to learn to dream big!

  38. It’s easy for me to dream big! Being present is challenging for me and I’m thankful every time I realize how engaged I am in the moment. Simple wins, right?

  39. Bridgette Hepburn-Smith says:

    It’s been my goal for a while to “be” in the present. Sounds easy, but it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to do. Being a single working mom of two, I am the queen of multitasking and sadly, missing the joy of living in the moment much of the time.

  40. I love dreaming big, but I try as much as I can to implement my baby steps into the here and now….sometimes other people’s here and now gets in the way 😉
    Sarah M

  41. I love dreaming big, but I try as much as I can to implement my baby steps into the here and now….sometimes other people’s here and now gets in the way 😉
    Sarah M

  42. Embracing and loving the here and now is harder. . . Dreaming big is fun. 🙂

  43. Christina says:

    I’m definitely finding the dreaming big part to be easier but scary as well. Embracing the here and now is hard…especially when some of your dreams have been crushed. But, I believe that part of embracing the here and now is to be able to dream again and to dream big while learning to be grateful for the moments we’re given in the here and now because its all a part of our story.

  44. I am dreaming of summer, here in NW MT, that is what we like to do………

  45. definitely the here and now.. dreaming comes naturally to me… like the air i breathe. finding purpose in the here and now and figuring out how the here and now IS a part of the big dream (somehow?) is what keeps me up at night. i can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

  46. Erin Thiele says:

    Wow. This is exactly what I’m feeling. And maybe because I have a 10 month old and a three year old, but I don’t feel like I’ve given myself permission to dream again. I’m too busy and tired. I’ve misplaced my dream maybe. But there’s always a stirring that there is more. However I want to enjoy the here and now because it passes so quickly. But I’m open to embracing what life is giving me now – I can only focus on a few things at a time. Ha ha ha!

  47. I guess dreaming is easier but I don’t think my dreams are very big these days

  48. Gretchen N. says:

    I think living in the present is easier, it doesn’t “require” as much. It’s doable. I can often see progress, but dreaming is harder. It can sometimes seem impossible.

  49. I love to dream; however, I quickly talk myself back into reality. Reality tends to snuff those dreams!

  50. I find the dreaming big is fun , but find it hard to do when I am a mom if five young children and a ful-time working mom , I find my self focusing in the here and now instead , would live to be Able to dream big and plan things out more but just seems to consume more time by doing that !

  51. I’m a dreamer. Always with plans!

  52. I have a harder time being in the present. I get dragged down by the mundane and have a hard time seeing the “big picture”.

  53. Dreaming big is easier because I am a planner. I have more trouble staying focused on the here and now.

  54. Being the mother of 4 small children, I sometimes have a hard time seeing past next 24 hours. Dreaming big just isn’t on my radar these days. But I would like to take the time to set some long-term goals for myself and I think this book might point me in the right direction.

  55. I wouldn’t call myself a dreamer, but I am a planner and because of that, it’s hard for me to leave in the present. I live in my plans way too often.

  56. It’s easier for me to live in the moment. I need to take the time to dream!

  57. Dreeeeeaaam, dream dream, dream (sing along!) I do dream of big, great things. But then the challenge for me is to slow down and be in the moment because being present is just as important.

  58. Your words are timely Tsh. Thank you for being brave to share them. I’ve been thinking lately about purpose, dreaming big, things left undone and the realities of the here and now with two small little ones. For me, its easier to just stay in the here and now because the demands are very tangible. But, I’m wanting to move out more into the dreams that seem to add a different trust factor for me. This book peaks my interest. =)

  59. Hi Tsh,

    I think that I’m much more in the present. I’m good at making small goals (workout 4 times a week, eat vegetable every meal). I love checking them off my calendar or to do list each day. However, I’m not so great about the dreaming part :). I could use some help with the big-picture stuff.



  60. I want to win!

  61. Dreaming big is normally easier than embracing life in the here and now! I’m an attorney and I literally PLAN for a living – it’s hard to bring that down to the day to day routine level sometimes.

  62. Sounds like a great book…I love the quote!

  63. The book sounds really interesting. I would love to win a copy!

  64. Definitely I’m a dreamer – but I find the day to day execution of those dreams hard sometimes. Great post!

  65. I’ve always had a problem connecting the two. I have lots of big dreams, but no idea what to do to bring them about. I think this book would be an eye-opener!

  66. I think both are hard for me. I often just “check out” from the present when it is tedious or hard. And life has so many unexpected twists & turns that I’m often discouraged about dreaming.

  67. Oh my goodness, dreaming is so much easier than acting to make things happen!

  68. It is so much more difficult for me to embrace where I am in life right now. I’m currently dreaming of where I’ll be in the future, and I know I need to learn to appreciate what I have right now.

  69. dreaming seems irresponsible as a parent, esp. to little ones whose every need seems to be an emergency!

  70. Life is VERY hard for me right now. So for me… sometimes dreaming of the future, setting goals, etc. keeps my mind off of my difficult circumstances.

  71. Dreaming big is much easier than accepting – and enjoying – whatever the present is. I have to really force myself to push pause on working toward my dreams in order to enjoy today.

  72. Dreaming is definitely easier for me because it doesn’t require the same effort and work that executing in the here & now does. : )

  73. Kristi V. says:

    Unfortunately, it’s much easier for me to dream. I’m having a hard time being content with the here and now. I can definitely relate.

  74. Sounds like a great book. I’m not sure which is easier for me- embracing right now or planning. I love planning ahead, but find it hard to find space in the every-day-ness of life to really do the planning/dreaming that I want to…and then the execution.

  75. I agree with Carrie, it’s easier for me to dream than to plan well! I always start efficiently but can get stuck in the following through bit of achieving goals.

  76. Like you, I’m a planner by nature. I’m working on being more mindful of the present moment.

  77. Ah, yes! This totally resonates. My word for the year is “THIS.” I am choosing to spend the year leaning into the here and now because when I spend too much time in dreamland I get frustrated for all of the things standing in between THIS and THAT. So, yes, we have plans and goals and hopes, but I am focusing on the little ones and the not-perfect house and the things I CAN do now with what I have, and sowing the seeds of the dreams into the present tense.

  78. I tend to live in the present because life experiences have made it very difficult to thing “big” for the future. Although there are times I feel hopeful, there is usually some glaring reality that pulls me back. I tend to get easily bothered by friends who are always looking toward the next thing….not because it isn’t a great thought in theory, but they tend to be focused on the wrong things like “keeping up with the upward mobile” world.

  79. JennaMarie says:

    I’ve always believed that God places things in your path to keep you moving forward in this journey of life. Well this morning – this post is it for me. I’m feeling like there is more that I could be doing in life to lead a more fulfilling life in the here and NOW! The dreaming part comes easily for me but the day to day stuff of finding more joy in the present does not. Maybe this book will give me the push to do exactly that…

  80. I am better at being in the moment. I have a hard time letting myself dream because I don’t feel adequate to fulfill those dreams and I tend to lose myself in covetousness.

  81. I’ve always been a small steps person, so it’s easier for me to have faith that the every-day is adding up to something bigger than to set big goals.

  82. I’m also feeling restless these days, and I guess it is because I’m filled with all kinds of new creativity and gusto! It’s just trying to rope it in and aim for some kind of productivity –in the moment 🙂 I would love a copy of Restless!

  83. Tsh, you have perfectly articulated what I’ve been feeling lately. Sometimes, I have difficulty figuring out why I feel the way that I do. Thank you for your insight and encouragement.

  84. This post calls to me. It is the topic of what has been the continuous loop running in my head, interrupting my day dreams, and causing restless sleep.

  85. I think I am better at being in the moment although the though of dreaming big is very appealing to me!

  86. I just finished Jennie’s Anything book from a Good Morning Girls Bible Study & it was wonderful!

  87. OH I would LOVE to read this book!!!! Reaching that limbo stage where 2 out of 3 kids are in school and new-and-old dreams are stirring, just not sure how to walk it all out yet. The LORD will reveal it in His good time, but restless some days? Yes :).

  88. Dreaming (and planning) come so naturally to me, and I love to relish those thoughts. But I’m also living in the present, which I find more challenging because I don’t always like what is happening at the moment. I’m choosing to embrace the moments I’m currently in before they’re gone and can’t come back. Thanks for the good reminder and for the chance to win the book!

  89. I find it much easier to live in the present and very hard to dream big. Both have good and bad points. I have been in missions for 30 some years and I don’t get homesick and make where I am home and am content. But it means I have neglected family and friends especially those who are harder to pursue but have needed my love more. It’s hard to me to dream because I have had to let go of many dreams. But God has a bigger dream for me and I need to find more joy in the possibilities.

  90. I am definitely a dreamer trying to learn how to live more in the present.

  91. I definitely find it harder to embrace the here and now. Dreaming is much easier for me!

  92. It’s easier for me to embrace life in the here and now. I find it hard to dream….partly because I know my dreams are likely not God’s plan for my life and my present situation is. So I try to find contentment and embrace the present.

  93. I love to dream. It’s a new thing for me. Finally stepping into believing that God designed us to dream. It’s the here and now, day-to-day, details that weigh me down. I love your posts on how to take intentional steps today to make tomorrow a reality. Keep dreamin’!

  94. Jenn Krivanek says:

    To do lists rule my life and I would like to get a bit away from that! Looks like a wonderful read.

  95. Right now I am in the middle of de-cluttering my house so I can have my married children and their families come for a week-end and be able to sleep over. My dream is to actually have this happen.

  96. When I hear the word ‘restless’ it has many layers of ‘thought’… both good and bad.
    Would be a great book to go through this ‘new year’.
    Hey I am from Oregon too. Yamhill County. No better place to live.

  97. I love dreaming but also find it difficult to embrace the present!

  98. I’m a dreamer, always planning up new trips and thinking of new projects to do. Follow-through is harder for me, although I usually knuckle through because I was taught to finish what I start! I feel restless a LOT — never satisfied. I think that’s partly my personality and partly something God puts inside all of us {this earth will never be good enough for us}.

  99. I find myself running back and forth between the two. Having two little ones forces me into moment-by-moment living. On the other hand, I’ve recently discovered and settled into my passions/gifts/purpose convergence and that is giving way to some pretty big dreams. Intentionality and balance is where I need to live now.

  100. Definitely a here and now kinda gal…but would like to cultivate the dreamer part of me more!