Two.

IMG_1193A lot has happened over the past two years

I caught myself saying it had been “three” years the other day, I suppose that’s how much time blurs after grief burrows inside your heart and settles down for the long haul. I used to meticulously count the months, now I imagined I’ve been living without my dad a whole year longer than was really true. I guess that means I’ve resigned myself to this fate, that this life has to keep going now, without him.

And yet, I can still clearly remember the details of that day:

It was overcast, rainy, much it like it was on June 10, 2015 when I started this post. In 2013, I was at work when I got the call that my dad was in the ER…. I couldn’t focus and I asked to go home. I wandered around the house, I cuddled my cat, I watched episodes of Total Drama Action to distract myself from the wait. I told friends and they prayed with me. The friends I lived with made dinner. I was just about to attempt to sit down and eat –it was a sausage biscuit, breakfast for dinner– when the call came. I remember kneeling on the wood floor of my bedroom. I remember our pastor coming over. I remember sitting with a pillow clenched to my chest, trying and failing to sip a smoothie so that at least I could take in some nutrients.

That day was awful, but it was the days that followed that were worse. I fell asleep hugging my cat and I remember waking up early for my plane ride and wishing that it had all been a bad dream. I remember sobbing on the plane. I remember a panic attack in Colorado when the high mountain air fled from my lungs and the stress of making funeral plans became too much. I remember beer and sandwiches. I remember stepping outside DIA as I waited to fly back to Maryland and wanting to collapse on the sidewalk and never get up again.

I remember music. Manic Depression is touching my soul… So keep your head up, love. And the landslide’ll bring it down.

But still, a lot has happened in these past two years…

wpid-20150602_165350.jpgI’ve gotten to live alongside my family, the brother who went off to college when I was only nine years old. I get to live with him and his wife now, I get to watch them be parents to my nieces, I get to sit with them and be, and feel at home with them. I get to stop my writing, dry my tears, and go watch a documentary about music with them… which is exactly what happened in the middle of this post.

Not only that, but I’ve started chasing a new dream, a community of nerds, a friend and partner to tend this garden with, something that fits.

I’ve stumbled upon a job with consistent hours and a service I feel good about. I’ve been adopted into a work family who truly cares about me.

I’ve found another friend, one who reached out to me, one who grabbed my hand as the darkness closed in– and he steadily became more, so much more…

But yes, there was still plenty of darkness… In these past two years, I had to decide to say goodbye to my cat, because I couldn’t take her with me. She was a gift from my mom, and she’d been with me through both losses, it really sucked having to lose her too. I also reached the point in my life when I’ve been alive longer on this earth without my mother than I’ve been alive with her. She died when I was twelve, and I’ve been living with her absence for thirteen years, and the years will keep adding and adding now. I miss her. I don’t really like this math, but I’m compelled to focus on it. Grief does strange things to you.

Grief messes with your faith. I don’t know where I am anymore, and I don’t know how much of it was sparked by grief or if this was just something I was bound to encounter eventually. (I’m sure it doesn’t help that when I lost my dad, I also lost my church community.) As I look back on the posts I’ve written since June 10, 2013, I see small glimpses of hope and light– not too much, but just enough to have kept me afloat. I read them now and I sink. I feel bitter and doubtful and cynical about the words I once clung to to keep from becoming bitter and doubtful and cynical. O Lord, help my unbelief. Actually, I don’t know if it really is unbelief or if it’s just pain. I can’t hold to faith anymore because I can’t trust God anymore, because I’m hurt; I still don’t think I’ve fully recovered from the blow. I had to fill out a questionnaire recently that asked me to rate how much I agreed with the following statement: “I have beliefs that sustain me.” Two years ago, I would’ve given that statement top marks, but I didn’t know how to score it this year. I’m scared, and I don’t know what to do about that.

Deep breath. Okay, back to the good things:

In these past two years, I’ve traveled a little, visited the Great Sand Dunes, attended two concerts by my favorite musicians, spoken at an academic conference, won an award for working with youth in my community, taken up yoga, read widely, and fallen in love.

I truly wish that my dad could’ve been a part of it all. I know that would probably mean that most of these good events wouldn’t have happened, and I suppose knowing that his death has at least brought about a glimpse of beauty helps a little… but I miss him. I just miss him. Two years, Dad. I hope you and mom have been watching.

Advertisements

Dealing with Fear

I published this post over at Small Still Voices on Friday, but I want to re-post it in its entirety here, because part of why I write this blog is so that I can have a way to look back on my life and be encouraged in the journey (and hopefully encourage you in yours too).
catriona_fear

Community, as you know, I’ve been in a post-graduation transitional state for a few months now… However, I just recently made a big decision. I chose a path that will take me somewhere new and adventurous and unpredictable, at least for a year. Hopefully, by the time you read this post, thinking about this path will bring only exciting and peaceful thoughts to my mind. But right now, community, I want to be real with you: I’m terrified.

As soon as I made the decision, and in the days after it, I’ve been plagued with aching fears and doubts. The decision’s been made, the paper’s been signed, the plan is in motion, and I lie in my bed as the anxious thoughts spin round and round in my head and I cry, What in the world did I just do?

I’m sure this has happened before, when I’ve faced paths like this. I’m sure I’ve felt afraid even as I trusted in God to lead me. The fears just feel so much worse this time. It’s enough to start me questioning if I made the right decision, if God really is leading me here, if I just completely missed something. However, when I think about stopping and giving up the path entirely, I resist. I don’t want to. I don’t want to stop, but I’m afraid to go. Can anybody relate to this?

The other day, a mentor asked me if I thought this new path would be scary or exciting. I said both, since the scary part is what makes it exciting–because if God doesn’t show up, I’m not going to make it. I actually said that, I don’t know where it came from, but I said it aloud, and I started tearing up at the thought of God leading me down this road. I thank the Holy Spirit for that moment. It’s definitely not the first time (or the second time) that the Spirit’s swept in to bring words to my mouth about how the scary part is actually the best part.

God is so good, so good, and He will never leave me nor forsake me. I want to be authentic with you about this journey and about my fears, but I also want to align those thoughts and emotions with the Truth that God is in control. Thank you for sharing this road with me.

What about you? What’s happening in your journey right now? How do you handle the fears and doubts that come your way? I pray that the God of the universe would fill you (and me) with the peace of the Savior that surpasses all understanding.

This post was originally published on Small, Still Voices. If you would like to comment, please follow this link to comment over there. Thanks. <3

Reflections on ‘Talent’ and Identity

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-18, and I’m grateful that in the High Calling’s daily reflections, Michelle Derusha wrestled with it too and helped me to understand it better.

Michelle writes: The truth is, God gives each one of us gifts, though some might not be as obvious as others. Ask yourself this: what fuels my passion? What is it that I love to do and do well? The answer to that question may very well point to your God-given gifts. The key, of course, is to recognize your gifts and use them for the good of others. Don’t play it safe, Jesus tells us in this parable. Don’t hide your gifts; don’t bury them, like the fearful third servant did, where they can’t impact anyone else. And don’t squander them either, but instead, invest them in growing the kingdom of God.

Today my friend Annie (who published a book, y’all), blogged about what aspiring writers should do if they want to write. Basically, she said start writing, start collecting stories and writing out the ones that are burning inside you, even if they only exist in a folder on your desktop for the time being. She also said don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and get involved in a community.

I think that’s partly why I choose to keep up with this blog. I recognize that I have a passion for writing (and photography), for creative expression, for synthesizing and story-telling. So I’m trying not to hide my gifts.

I don’t really know what to do right now with writing. I turned down a creative writing graduate program because it just didn’t feel right and I didn’t think it was what I really wanted. To be honest, it kind of brought about a little identity crisis. All this time I’d been saying I was a writer. I’d been many other things before, a singer, an actor, a photographer, a film-maker, but I had kind of drifted away from those things, but at least I was a writer. But if I didn’t do this program, if I didn’t want to do this program, then what was I? I didn’t want to just give up again and never amount to anything. What am I if I’m not a writer?

I don’t feel like that so much anymore, and I try all the time to remind myself that my identity is not in what I do but in Who created me. However, even as I read Donald Miller’s books this week where he expands upon that very truth, that our identity is found in Christ, I find insecurity gnawing at me, the insecurity that says I could be like Donald Miller if I just tried. I’m not really serious about this stuff if I’m not trying.

Writers say this to each other a lot. It’s a thing big-time writers say when they give advice to small-time writers. It’s what they talk about in creative writing classes. It’s what creative writing graduate program advisors say to you in the middle of your interview. They don’t say it exactly like this, but this is what I hear: You’re not a real writer if you don’t write every day.

I get that. Seriously, I do. You can’t expect to get better at something if you don’t practice. But sometimes I worry if I’ve twisted this, and this parable of the talents, far beyond anything Jesus ever wanted to say to me.  I’ve measured myself up against the definition of a writer and found myself seriously lacking, and so I’ve felt insecure and upset with myself. This was my identity: writer. It’s the only skill I thought I had, and so I made it my identity, but if I wasn’t feeding into it, if I wasn’t living up to the definition, then I was nothing.

That makes no sense in conjunction with the Parable of the Talents, though. In the parable, the Master gives talents to His servants, and they are to make something of it, for the glory of the Master. Their identity is not in the talents themselves, but in the Master who gives them, the Master who loves His servants and trusts them with these gifts, trusts them to do something amazing.

I think Michelle’s post is key here, because her point is about how we should share the talents with others. This is what brings the Master glory, when we share His investment. Jesus begins this parable with one of His “The Kingdom of heaven is like…” statements, so I think this is about a lot more than some money or some gifts. It’s got to be about proclaiming His gospel and His glory, right?

Our identity is not in our gifts, it is in the One who gives them, and by living out our gifts, we bring Him glory. I confess, I have been (and still am) so afraid of not growing in the gifts God gave me, of not using them — or at the very least, of using them for my own selfish glory and not His. So I’m writing this post, and I’m journaling to Him, and I’ve started keeping a collection of spiritual essays inspired by my readings of Blue Like Jazz. I ordered a macro lens attachment with a gift card today, and I’m not going to let myself feel bad about the purchase, because photography is one of the ways I worship my King. It is a gift He gave me to give back to Him. So is writing, so is the freedom to blog.

That is why I’m a writer. I don’t want to write for any other reason. And I don’t want it to ever again be a measure for my identity. Thankfully, that is safe in Christ, and if I lay these gifts before Him, eagerly desiring to bring Him glory, He won’t let them go to waste. Please don’t let me waste them, Lord. I am not a writer, I am a child of God.

In Transition

IMG_8256Five days ago, I finished my Bachelor’s degree.
Four days ago makes it one year since I’ve returned from Scotland.
Three days ago, I hit a speed-bump on my way down a road of many-forking paths for the future. Not a roadblock, just a speed-bump, enough to throw me off balance and make me wonder if I’m choosing the right fork.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m confused about the desires of my heart. I feel like I’m getting conflicting words that tell me to move forward, but rest and wait on the Spirit. What’s the difference between moving forward and letting the Spirit move you forward?

I don’t even know where to move.

Over a year ago, in Scotland, I spent some time trying to find my dreams, to figure out the way God crafted me. I remember a time in Lifegroup where we were asked to think about what it would look like if God gave us the desires of our hearts, the deepest desires we’re keeping hidden. I remember having a really hard time with this because I couldn’t quite pin down the desires of my heart. I wish I could find that moment in my journal, but I’m pretty sure I said God would have to show me what those desires were first. Or something.

But maybe that’s not the way it works. Maybe I’m supposed to do something first, and then realize with hindsight that God had been satisfying the desires of my heart all along. I don’t know. But I also remember thinking that I had to leave Scotland with an answer, with some kind of future plan.

And I didn’t. In fact, I called that idea out as a lie that was stressing my mind. Once I came home, though, I thought that I would for sure leave college with an answer.

And I didn’t. Here I am, still confused and scared and in [what feels like permanent] transition. Still no closer to figuring out what my dreams are. I thought I was, but then the speed-bump came along to show me that really, I don’t have anything figured out.

I don’t want to move forward frantically without the Spirit, but I don’t want to sit and do nothing.

One day from now marks the traditional anniversary of the moment my God left the throne of Heaven, took on flesh, and became a baby, a baby that would grow up to die for my wrongdoings and then conquer death to bring freedom and victory to the whole world.

So maybe that’s all that matters. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know the Gospel. And because the world shuts down this time of year, there’s not much I can do but sit and ponder it, even if I’d rather be pushing forward down those forking paths.

May this be a time of sweet communion with the LORD, then. I want to know my Father’s heart so deeply, to bind mine with His so closely, that the way is obvious. And even if it isn’t, even if I still don’t get an answer, at least I will be drawing closer to the Lover of my soul.

Dreaming with Two Desires

Last night I watched the 2006 film Babel for a class project. It was a pretty interesting film, better than some of the other films I’ve had to watch for classes. This one consisted of intersecting stories that ranged over four countries. There was one part in the film (of many) that made me really angry at Western culture. There is a moment where tragedy strikes an American woman on a tour bus in Morocco, and she needs medical care. Being in the middle of the desert, the bus’s only option is to go to the tourguide’s hometown and seek medical attention while awaiting faster transport to a hospital.

Well, the Western tourists really didn’t like that idea, and that’s what made me angry. While this woman is dying and her husband is freaking out, everyone else on the tour bus complain of no air-conditioning and fear for their safety because they are now outside the boundaries of the tour and this Moroccan village must be unsanitary and unsafe.

I wanted to scream at them: Are you kidding me? This is your chance to actually experience Moroccan life, cross cultural borders, and maybe even help someone. Look at all those children around the bus, go play with them. You may not understand their language, but I bet you all understand the basic rules of football. Take pictures with them. Watch them get a kick out of making faces and seeing themselves on the LCD screen. Get some music and start a dance party.

Obviously, I knew the real issue was that the fictional woman was dying and none of the fictional tourists seemed to care, but that’s seriously all I wanted to do…go play with real Moroccan children. (I wonder if that’s what I’d actually do in a situation like that. I like to think I would, but I’m not sure. Conviction.)

For the “future,” I’m currently applying in two different directions. One is a writing program in the country I love, and the other is a missionary-teaching position in two countries I’ve never been to but am sure I will grow to love. I want to work in writing, but I also want to teach and love children. Last night, after watching Babel, as that desire to be around children was present in my mind, I cried to God. I said, “Do they have to be separate? Can’t I have both?” Because right now it feels like it’s one or the other, teaching or writing…forever. The rest of the world or Scotland…forever. Choose now or forever hold your peace.

I don’t think that’s true, it’s just the way it feels.
I have desires, I have dreams, I have giftings and strengths, I just don’t know how they all fit together yet.
But I’m excited to get to find out.

Apparently, I chose the wrong major.

…But I’m six months away from graduating. Oops.

Let me clarify the issue:

My major is English with a concentration in writing. I chose it two years ago when I transfered from community college because I wasn’t exactly sure which “career” I wanted in life, but I wanted to study something I cared about. I originally transferred as a journalism student, but I changed it just before classes started because I thought I could do more with an English degree instead of a more focused and one-track journalism degree. (I figured I’d chose a focus in graduate school, but I don’t really see that on my horizon right now anymore.) Maybe you think that’s foolish, but that was part of my reasoning.

You know what my other reasoning was? I actually like English. I like studying literature, I like studying why it was written, what it means, what happened in the author’s life, the culture’s life, the movement’s life, that may have influenced the work itself. And I love writing. I actually love writing about and analyzing literature, how nerdy is that? I also love creative writing more than journalistic writing. It’s different, and I was aware of that, so I chose English. I figured that if I was going to spend two years of my time and money studying something, it might as well be something I actually cared about and enjoyed doing.

And you know what? I have enjoyed it. Granted, I wish that my university had a more diverse requirements list because I have no room to take anything extra, and sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in British literature… But I still enjoy it. I wish it had more writing classes, and I wish I could’ve established a better connection with the professors by coming in my Freshmen year. However, coming in as a transfer student, I’ve still enjoyed it. Most of my professors have been awesome, and they really care about what they teach. And you know what? I enjoyed those two years at community college when I was just a “General Studies” major too. I got to take lots of fun classes like art, photography, acting, astronomy, and film, all while accomplishing most of my general education credits and getting an Associates Degree in the process.

If it sounds like I’m defending myself, it’s because recently I’ve been feeling like I might’ve made the wrong decision.

Just today, a friend whom I greatly respect, told me that he wished he could rewind the clock and tell me to change my major.

He was joking, but it made me think. He said it because of the things I’m looking to do in my future. Some of my new-found desires seem like they would work better with a different degree. I agree with him, and it has been something I’ve been scolding myself about even before he said anything.

For example: Slowly but surely I think God has been growing in me a desire to teach, but when I first started as an English major I was dead-set against anyone telling me I was just going to be a teacher. I’m still against it, and I don’t want to be an English teacher right now, but I’m looking at possible opportunities to teach Conversational English overseas … and it would be a lot easier and make a lot more sense if I had known that three years ago and started on a TESOL program at my university.

Example number two: What my friend was talking about was my desire for cross-cultural missions and how I want to have an actual job in the place I live instead of just living on financial support. I don’t know what he would’ve told me to major in… maybe International Studies or Community Development? That’s something I’ve seen as a requirement for internships at non-profit organizations. I guess I missed the boat on majoring in that stuff too.

I think it’s stuff like this that makes me absolutely terrified to make any sort of decision whatsover. Because, you see, I chose English, and the enemy is telling me right now that I chose wrong.

Listen, I’m pretty sure God’s not up there shaking his head and going, “Oh, my dear Robyn, if only you’d chosen this major. Your life will forever be second-best, and you’ll never get the job(s) I had originally intended for you, all because you made the wrong choice in college.”

That sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? So I’m calling the enemy out on his stupid lie.

You know what happened to me this semester in my three English classes?

One: My British literature professor told me he enjoyed reading my essays and having me in his class.
Two: My literary criticism professor gave me an A on a paper that stressed me out to no end, and he told me that it has potential to be published in an academic journal.
Three: My advanced fiction professor went out of his way to email me after he had read my final story and tell me that I had done a great job and made the right choices. He edited my story and sent it back to me because he thought it also had potential to be published.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, I’m honestly just stating the truth to myself. I chose English, and obviously there was a reason to it. I enjoy it, and God has gifted me with the ability to study it well and to write well.

Now, I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but that’s okay. It’s not a useless major, and my college years have not been wasted. The answer may not be right in front of me, and it probably won’t be easy to do when it comes; maybe I will have to go back to school. But I am trying to be confident in God’s timing and God’s opinion of me. He’s not going to drop me off in the world and laugh at how I wasted my time, at how useless the skills He gave me are for anything important. He gave me both the desires and the gifts, and I have to believe that He will bring the two together in His most glorious and perfect way, and He will of course make up for any shortcomings because He is the Lord Almighty.

thoughts on telling our God stories

I don’t blog very much, do I? Oops. I really want to be better at this, but I only like to blog when I have something personal or contemplative to say, and those things take time to work out. Well, anyway, here’s one for you.

I’ve been thinking… Maybe we’ve been telling our stories wrong.

I just read a blog post from Stuff Christians Like about that one lie the devil always tells, the one that says God is holding out on us, that if we give our lives to Him, He’ll make us give up what we want and do something we hate. I encourage you to read Jon’s post if you haven’t already.

Honestly, I’ve struggled with this idea a lot because many of the “missionary” stories I hear (or maybe just the ones I assume in my head) are told like this:

“I NEVER wanted to be a missionary — and what did God do? He sent me on the next plane to a third wold country and now here I am!”

And that’s great, and that’s wonderful, but what about me? I WANT to live on another continent and serve the people there…. That must mean I’ll be stuck in the USA forever, right?

That’s a lie. And it angers me so because the devil is now trying to incorporate that lie into our own personal stories!

I understand the purpose for telling stories in that way. It tells the before and after, it shows how God is all-powerful and can use anyone He wants in any way he wants… but it takes work for me to get there in a story like that. It takes work for me to have confidence in my own journey with God and the desires He’s given me when I hear a story like that. [I know, I need to work on my insecurities.]

See, I have a “missionary” story like that too, but I never tell it that way because I never think about it that way. I’ve wanted to travel God’s world so badly for the past six years or so.

However, I guess if you had told me when I was 15 that I’d gain this huge heart for the nations and desire to live across the ocean from my family and serve a people I never knew, I probably would have freaked out and started hyperventilating about my lonely scary future.

But God didn’t send me to a new continent at 15. He sent me to Los Angeles.
I didn’t even decide to go for the “mission trip.” Yes, I wanted to serve, but I went because I had just moved to the east coast from California, and I wanted to go back. I didn’t know that God was using that trip and my new church to begin cultivating the seeds He had already placed in me before I was born.

See– that’s my story. My heart for the nations had been there the whole time, I just didn’t know it until I began to experience it.

After Los Angeles came the opportunity to go to Hungary.
A new continent, a new country, a new language. In Hungary, I met missionaries who served all over Europe; I was exposed to a kind of “missions” I never even know existed. And I loved it. This living on a different continent thing… I could dig it. Maybe. For a little while.

After Hungary came Cameroon — What?

This girl, who only wanted to go back to her home in Los Angeles, went off to Hungary because she figured it was Europe, so it was “safe enough.” Now, she was going to go off, eagerly, to Africa? [God bless my poor father, who has supported me through all these opportunities.] Yes, Africa. I loved that too. I wanted to go back.

But after Cameroon came Belgium. And after Belgium came Israel. And I loved those places too. I loved the people who lived and worked there. I began to desire longer and longer trips…

 

And then came Scotland, and I loved it even more than all the rest. I loved it so much that I didn’t want to come home, even after four months away.

But sometimes I get stuck thinking that, because I love something like that so much, I’m not going to be able to get it. Because that’s the way it works.

How ridiculous!

God didn’t snap His fingers, throw me on a plane, and change me from a scared teenager into someone who wanted to travel the world for Him. He drew out the heart and the faith that was already in me by His goodness and grace. And yes, that changed me, gradually, and I’m so thankful. Does it count as a before and after story if it’s not drastic and dramatic? [That’s another issue I’ve struggled with too. I’ve been taught that when I talk about Jesus, I have to say, “Before I was this. Enter Jesus. Now I am this.” And that’s good, and that’s true, but it’s hard for me to simplify it like that.]

Anyway, my point is… perhaps we need to rethink the way we tell our stories. Perhaps we need to be more thoughtful about what we say and be more concerned about the story being true than about it being dramatic. God doesn’t need us to embellish His story.

Perhaps you did hate the idea of missions, of living in a different country, and then God changed your heart by putting you on the next plane to Cameroon. That’s wonderful, and please hear me when I say that I am not denying that that can happen and that your story is powerful. I would love to hear about what God has done in your life! God is in the business of transforming us into who He created us to be, and sometimes that requires rapid change. A lot of times that requires an awesome before and after story.

But we need to make sure that we teach that God is really drawing out what He put in you to begin with, and we need, need, need to remind each other that God is so good, and so loving, and that He gives us desires and gifts and experiences for a reason. He knows how to give good gifts to His children, and sometimes those gifts come in packages we never thought we’d want, but that doesn’t mean that when we want something so badly and we lay it before the Lord that He’s going to give us the complete opposite. What father, when his child asks for bread, would give her a stone?

Because, God — if You’re going to do that, You’re going to need to lead my heart to find joy and happiness in that stone, and You will. If a stone is what I’ll get, I know You are going to make it so much better than bread. I know You will draw out that part of my heart that I don’t know about yet.

God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable

–Romans 11:29
What? Three new posts in the last week? Yeah, I hope you’re excited, because I am. Anyway, I wanted to share a post I wrote a few weeks ago for Kingdom Dreams. They’ve been changing up their blog a bit, so I don’t think they’ll actually end up posting it, but it’s something that was on my heart to share, so I thought I’d share it here instead. Enjoy.

I know it’s been a while since my last post for Kingdom Dreams. I’ve taken a bit of a break while I’m here in Scotland to figure out other parts of my life and to think more on how best to chronicle this journey of dreaming… But I’m starting to realize that I can’t just set dreaming aside, compartmentalize it, and go on with the rest of my life – God won’t let me.

It’s funny, I haven’t really been focused on writing this dream blog, but God keeps bringing up the idea of dreaming. For example, I had coffee the other day with a friend of a friend, and he started talking to me randomly about the importance of dreaming and tells me that he works for City of Dreams, an organization much like Kingdom Dreams based here in the UK.

And another thing – I don’t know if it’s just been the time away or the conversations with other Christians or what, but God has really been molding and forming a specific dream inside me that somehow got pushed to the wayside whenever I thought about Kingdom Dreaming in the past.

I’ve had this dream pretty much since I was eighteen-years-old, when I saw the poverty in Cameroon and knew my friends back home needed to be made aware of what was truly happening in the world. Since then, the dream has blossomed into telling the stories of aid workers, missionaries, and the people they encounter and work with on a daily basis. I want to record the marvelous things God is doing around the world; I want to raise awareness and proclaim His glory through writing and photography.

But so far, my dream has been just that, a dream. A thing I mused with God about in my spare time, but I was never really sure if it were even possible, or how I would even go about making it happen.

I’ve already mentioned this dream casually to five different people here in Scotland. I don’t know why, God just keeps bringing it to the forefront of my mind. And do you know what each and every one of these people’s responses have been? An outpouring of encouragement, telling me I’m headed in the right direction: “That’s a great dream,” they said. “There’s definitely a need for that. We need story-tellers like you,” and even, “I know some people involved in things like that, do you want to meet them?”

God must be grinning up there, saying, She thinks this is just an idea, something that might never work out… Let me show her how real and possible it is for her to do this.

God won’t let me let this dream go. And even while I may have forgotten about it, He was already working out the details and connections necessary to make it a reality. Because it’s not my dream, it’s the dream He has given me, and He will see it through to the end.

I knew I needed to post this tonight because I’ve already started to push this out of my mind again and forget about it… But tonight at Crossroads we talked about the call God’s placed on each of our lives and the unique assignment He’s given to us as individuals, so I’m thankful that He will gladly keep reminding me of what I can (and will) do (or am already doing) for Him. I pray that He would remind you too. <3

Ice Cream Dreams

 

This post has now been published on the blog over at Kingdom Dreams! I’ll be chronicling my dream process there every Wednesday, so feel free to check it out!

At the Kingdom Dreams workshop that I mentioned in my last post, we did an exercise where we were split into groups. Each group was asked to come up with an amazing, out-of-the-ordinary ice cream shop and to present our ideas to a judge to see which group had the best one. We were told nothing was off-limits and that we could basically do whatever we wanted.

And leave it to God to place me in a group full of crazy dreamers.

The first idea? Everything’s free.
“Hey, I mean, they said anything goes, right?”
Okay, so free ice cream.

And an actual cow out front — no, wait, different colored cows for different flavors. Oh! Maybe the ice cream comes directly out of the utters! Mmm, now that’s fresh.

Don’t forget that it’s calorie-free, but full flavor!

And here I am, as the designated secretary, scribbling all this down and keeping my mouth shut. Because all I want to say is, “Well, how does that actually work? And how do we make a profit if it’s all free? Where are we getting this ice cream that we can’t pay for? And where in the world do we get multicolored, ice-cream-producing cows?!” But I kept my mouth shut.

“You’re quiet,” My new friend Tonya says to me. “You got any ideas?”

But I tell her I’m just trying to wrap my mind around it all as I keep on writing down the others’ ideas. Because I can’t think of anything wild, I can’t not be practical. I can play off the others’ ideas a little, but I can’t come up with my own, and I can’t accept the craziness of it all, except to just write it down because it’s only a game and what the heck, this workshop’s about dreaming, anyway, isn’t it?

But why was it so hard for me to dream?
(I’m a writer, for pete’s sake! Dreaming’s what I do on a daily basis. But that’s fiction. That’s stories.)
This was just a silly game, though, and I couldn’t even dream big.

What happens to my real-life dreams, then?
Thank God His dreams and imagination are much bigger than mine.

And sure, the world needs the practical ones, the ones who can help shape and focus a dream. And maybe that’s part of my purpose. But I don’t want my need for analyzing and control to hinder me from dreaming far bigger than what’s comfortable, far bigger than I can contain.

Because God’s dreams are uncontainable.

And my life is supposed to be God-sized and God-inspired —  not me-sized and me-inspired, limited by what only I can dream possible, hindered by the worries of not having enough money, time, resources, or influence… When all God is saying is, “Dream big, baby girl. It’s all in My control anyway, remember?

So go ahead, lay in bed at night and dream with Me about that crazy ice cream parlor that’s going to change the world.

And then, build it.”

If money were no object, if there were absolutely nothing in your way, what would you do for the Kingdom? What crazy, earth-shaking dreams has God placed on your heart? Do you believe He has the power to make them happen through you?