Dare to dream

A-few-of-my-journalsWhen I was 14, my youth pastor’s wife, Kelly Shaw, handed me a black, faux-leather journal and dared me to dream.

I dubbed it my “dream journal.” In the first few pages, I reflected on where I wanted to be when I grew up, things I wanted to accomplish. I made pleas with God on behalf of my family and friends and even people I didn’t know.

Among those dreams were things like going to college and graduating without debt (Yes, I dreamed about that as a teenager), sharing the Gospel on every continent and marrying someone who has the same values and beliefs as me.

  • On May 5, 2012, I graduated with zero debt.
  • By May of 2012, I’d had the privilege of sharing the gospel on 4 continents. Still got a few to go!
  • On July 12, 2014, I married a godly, dependable man with a heart of gold, marked by integrity and bent toward truth.

Dream journalAnd there are dozens of other similar accounts. I don’t list these things to say, “Hey, look at me! I’m awesome.” Instead, I share them to display the faithfulness of God, and how great it is to write out dreams and later reflect on them as reminders of the many blessings in our lives.

Since then, I’ve penned thoughts in more than 40 journals, some pictured above. Some of them have nicknames, too, like the “Journal of Doom,” which I named after realizing it captured a whole year of stuff that just … sucked. I’ve poured out emotions, taken notes, cried and prayed over these books, spiral-bound and glued together.

I’m not always writing great stuff, to be sure. I’ve written about failures, times I’ve been let down or let others down, doubts that have crept in over the years and even shared my feelings in the aftermath of tragedies and personal drama.

In all these things though, I have that paper, lined and preferably nestled between a soft and flexible cover, ready for me to record the highs and the lows. And I can take out the old ones from time-to-time and reflect on what the Lord’s brought me through, how he’s proven Himself over and over again.

It’s interesting, too, how writing out goals can help shape your future decisions. The things I listed above were all given to me from the Lord, things I believe He set in motion long before I knew what college was or that boys didn’t have cooties; at the same time these aspirations helped guide and sync the decisions I’ve made through the years.  To graduate without debt, for example, I turned down the chance to go to LSU so I could take advantage of in state tuition and stay home a little longer. To marry a godly man, I set standards for dating based on Biblical principles and refused to compromise. It’s a beautiful picture of the grace of God and the action of man, and how they intricately intertwine. I can’t necessarily explain it, but it’s pretty cool.

It’s been 12 years since I received that first journal from Kelly, a woman who in many ways shaped the person I am today. It just goes to show how you never know when small acts of faithfulness and generosity, like giving a kid a journal and telling them to aim high, can turn into something big – or at least big for that kid.

It’s a reminder to me and anyone reading this … to hope. Write out some outlandish goals. Ask God to use you in new ways. Think beyond the day-to-day. Dare to dream.

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