Tag Archives: dreams

At the Barn 2013

An afternoon at the barn.

Hosted by Emily P. Freeman and her husband, John, her sister, Myquillyn (also known as The Nester) and her husband, Chad, and their parents, Gary and Brenda Morland.

A small gathering in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that promised to be full of stories, music, and conversation to encourage awakeness of mind and soul to living art and Christ-honoring vision.

That was the invitation.

One that I was all too excited to accept.

Even though I only have what I’m more often referring to these days as barely a hint of a vision. The hazy beginnings of a dream that I’m not at all certain of, but that I’m [often imperfectly] trusting the Lord to unfold.

atthebarn1

When Saturday came, I was nervous. But I also knew there was something in this. Something I needed to see. Something I needed to hear. Something I needed to experience.

And The Barn did not disappoint. It was altogether lovely. In a quiet and thoughtful and peaceful sort of way.

Though I’m not convinced I executed my attendance perfectly.

I met two women from Virginia on the sidewalk right before the doors opened and they readily welcomed me into their little group. They were friendly and delightful and made the day so much more fun! But I could have mingled more. I could have talked more. I could have shared more. I could have asked questions more.

But instead. I listened. I watched.

And you know what? It may not have been perfect. But it was good.

atthebarn2

It was good to be an observer for an afternoon. Of people. Of beauty. Of art. Of Christ.

It was good to be a fully engaged listener without the pressure to process out loud, to figure everything out, to respond immediately (or even at all).

As I was getting ready to head out, I stopped Emily to say thank you, but I told her I couldn’t quite put my thank you fully into words … because I couldn’t quite express the depth of my gratitude for this afternoon of soul awakeness.

And do you know what she said? “That’s okay. You don’t have to.”

And the same freedom that surrounded the entire afternoon event was somehow wrapped up in that statement.

Because this afternoon wasn’t about a “supposed to” or a “should”.

atthebarn3

It was about leaning into the truth that we were created in the image of this Creator God. And when we make art with our lives – not just of the traditional variety, but when we do the things that make us come fully alive – Christ comes out and is glorified.

And I came to The barn desperate for that freedom, desperate for that truth. And in a season of life where I feel as though I’m clinging to Christ out of sheer weakness and total desperation more often than not, these words were perhaps the most needed and most beautiful:

“You can’t get too desperate for Christ.” – John Freeman

The afternoon At the Barn gave me soul space that my too-full calendar and over-committed self have all but pushed out.

Space to breathe, to listen, to intentionally lean further into Christ, to acknowledge some desires He’s placed on my heart, to just sit with those desires and to pay attention to them, to ponder, to reflect, to give them back to Him.

Space to be reminded of my eternally secure identity (an image bearer of the most High God), to be reminded of my purpose (to glorify Him), to be reminded that being is more important than doing, but that some of the doing allows Christ to come out of us because He’s designed us to reflect Him well through our unique expressions of art … in A Million Little Ways.

And for that space At the Barn, I am grateful.

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When You Realize Writing is Not Actually Your Dream

I saw the invite – a save the date, really – and immediately checked my calendar to make sure the day was still free. It was the last time I checked (when there was only the hint of an event), but I had to be certain.

Because when Emily Freeman started talking about this Barn event – an afternoon At the Barn with her family and a relatively small gathering to spend time in soul-encouraging conversation about art, dreams, goals – all I could think was YES.

I’m in.

when you realize writing is not actually your dream

But as I purchased the ticket, I couldn’t help but also stop and think about how I now find myself taking all kinds of risks (of the best kind) with community and events and opportunities – like spending an afternoon with a bunch of fellow blog readers or spending five days getting Wrecked in Guatemala with complete strangers … and then doing it again six months later. All because of this gift of blogging which began as an extension of this gift of writing.

And it’s all in the very same season that I find myself pulling back on the frequency of posts and re-evaluating the purpose of this space.

A couple of months ago, I wasn’t even sure if I should continue blogging. This community is small and I’m not always convinced my words are necessary additions to the noise of this world.

But this community is also growing, and opportunities keep crossing my path to connect with other artists and other Jesus-followers as a result.

And I just know.

It’s not time to give-up this blogging thing yet.

Someday, God may ask that of me, but as I’ve been praying over and carefully considering whether or not that time is now, although the sitting-still long enough to think and write has been hard lately, I find I’m not finished here yet.

I want this space to be a place of restful harbor, filled with peace, where God speaks.

And more than anything, I want to honor and glorify Him in and through it.

So this community is small and the growth is slow.

But it’s His. And it’s good.

I began this blog a little over three years ago with a thought in the back of my mind that someday I might like to publish a book of some sort, but I could go ahead and start blogging without knowing if that would ever happen. I could begin sharing the message that the Lord had placed on my heart. I didn’t have to wait for that.

But somewhere along the way, I began to realize that while writing is a part of me and is a craft that I both love and enjoy, writing (or perhaps more specifically, publishing) wasn’t actually my dream.

The only problem? I didn’t know what was.

But all I knew to do was to keep writing, to keep taking small steps in obedience and faithfulness, and to keep seeking the Lord’s face.

Because that’s always right.

And through the writing, I kept sensing that there was something in all of this, something that I couldn’t quite figure out, something that I still needed to learn.

So now in this season, as my dreams and goals for this life are shifted and refined, I’m beginning to see at least a part of that something.

I’ve sought hard and waited long for the sort of dream I’m now beginning to consider. The one that in intentionally broad and vague terms revolves around orphan care (and no, I don’t know exactly what that means or what it will look like), the one that is so far beyond me and my ability, the one that scares the heck out of me, and the one that feels more like a God-whisper than anything I could dare to imagine on my own.

I’m not against the idea of publishing if that’s where the Lord leads and I suspect this won’t be the last times my dreams undergo some refining, but I also know this dream that’s slowly unveiling finally feels like mine. Like something only the Lord could have orchestrated and begun to reveal. And that makes it worth wanting and working toward and continuing to figure out … because it’s really only just a glimpse of a fuller vision. A hint of what could be.

So I’ll continue to write and I’ll continue to blog in this space.

And I’ll continue to lead and encourage this community to draw near to Christ.

To seek Him more. To know Him more. To trust Him more. To rest in Him more.

Because nothing – no amount of dreaming regardless of how right the dream seems – in this life matters more.

Thinking & Writing

thinking & writing

I’ve been thinking and writing about several topics lately that are just not fully fleshed out, wrestled out, thought out, prayed out, felt out, and written out enough to post on the blog.

Although I’m completely on board with the idea that done is [often] better than perfect (trust me, I know how ineffective it can be to hold myself to a ridiculous standard of perfection), I also know that sometimes certain topics really are worth the extra time and consideration before publishing.

But I can at least give you an idea of a few topics I’ve been spending a little more time on:

1) Calling

A topic that has interested, fascinated, and baffled me for years. This fact is made obvious by my 31 Day Series I wrote on How to Better Understand our {God Given} Callings back in October 2011. My mind has been back there a lot lately. So I’m spending more time with it again.

2) Dreams / Goals

I know Ive mentioned this before. And I’m still thinking and writing about it. It’s just not organized.

3) Singleness

I’m hesitant to write on this and I’m not even a hundred percent sure why. I’m just not sure what value I have to offer the conversation, but I am single. Have been my whole life. And although I hope marriage is a part of my someday future, I genuinely want to live my single years well. With a Christ-like mindset, a servant heart, and eyes fixed on Him.

So while I continue to process and write about these topics (plus a few more) behind the scenes, I want to hear from you. Really.

What have you been thinking about? Writing about? Reading about? Or even listening to?

It doesn’t have to be serious. I have big plans to start reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain this weekend, so if you’ve been reading any good novels lately, let me know those, too!

God IS

Sometimes life is hard.

Sometimes life is unspeakably beautiful.

I AM WHO I AM

Most of the time, the categories and seasons of this life aren’t so mutually exclusive. And somewhere in the middle, in the midst of the everyday that refuses to be so easily defined, I often feel like a hot mess of back-and-forth, up-and-down, I-don’t-know-which-way-is-up.

The inner tension and turmoil can become unbearable as I try to process and make sense of and unpack this life as it changes and unfolds.

There is so much that I just plain don’t know or understand.

The more I flesh out questions that don’t have easy answers, the more I try to make sense of how my life intertwines with others, the more I try to understand God’s plan, the more I realize how little I actually DO know and how far I have to go.

And it’s in those moments that I come closest to understanding the reality that I’ll never actually get there.

At least not this side of my eternal reality.

Because the “there” that I seem to be aiming for, that seems to exist only within the confines of my own brain, that demands nothing short of near-perfection and getting every little thing right all the time, doesn’t actually exist.

It’s a twisted perception that assumes if I just had this or were just better at this or could just improve this, life would suddenly be as it should be.

But that’s just not right at all.

And the weight of the error in that sort of thinking is downright crippling.

But on the other side, there is relief and release when I can come to grips with even a dim understanding that I’m not supposed to have answers to everything and that I’m more-or-less supposed to feel helpless and out of control.

Because the hard and unpleasant and I’m-not-even-sure-how-to-live-with-it truth is I am helpless and out of control.

I don’t call the shots.

I don’t control this life.

No amount of over-analyzing or self-evaluating or hyper-spiritualizing will EVER change that.

Yes, if I identify areas in this life that need work, by the grace of God and by the power of His Holy spirit within me, I can be changed. He can and will continue to sanctify me, to make me holy, to conform me to His image.

But I can’t get there by a sheer force of will or by maintaining the ideal schedule.

As I consider the future … having dreams and setting goals and making plans … it’s easy to become so task oriented and short sighted that I fall into the trap of thinking if I just make the plan and do the work, I’ll achieve success. Or conversely, that if I want something and don’t do anything about it, I’m just not driven or ambitious enough, and might as well accept failure.

But interruptions and inconsistencies and inconveniences are just part of life. That’s where God so often chooses to work. And the more I try to do all the right things or to have all the right answers, the more my focus ends up back on myself and my gaze slips from HIM.

This life still isn’t and never will be about me.

And when my eyes are rightly fixed on the Lord, when I’m seeking Him first, while I don’t have all the answers and I certainly still lack understanding, somehow perspective is restored and I can rest in the reality that I don’t make my own path straight. I can dream within the context of desiring more of Him (for myself and for others), but I don’t control how that plays out in this life nearly as much as I think I do.

So this is where I once again admit that I just don’t have many answers at all.

That this life is most right when my eyes are steadily and assuredly fixed on Christ.

That this life is more about seeking His presence than seeking all the right answers.

That this life is so much better when I trust the details and directions to His plan and His way.

That this life is not for me to make sense of because I’m not in control of it.

But in the midst of the unknown of this life, the one thing that I do know, that I can say with absolute assurance, that is beyond comforting is this:

God IS.

In all of His sovereignty, goodness, and holiness.

He’s the Great I AM, in control of this life and this world from beginning to end.

God IS.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
Exodus 3:14 (ESV)

5 Things

5things - railroad crossing

1. I took this photo last night when my roommate, B, and I were stopped for the slowest. train. ever. on the way home from dinner last night. I kinda love it.

2. If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have noticed that I posted a status about dreams not too long ago. Basically, I’m considering writing a post or two about dreams/hopes/plans for the future. I’ve never considered myself much of a dreamer, but lately, I find myself dreaming about and considering “big” things for the future a lot. And it’s a little uncomfortable.

I suppose I’m hesitant to become what I consider a dreamer because I don’t want to leave the Lord out of my dreams for the future or not give Him room to move and re-direct in their midst.

Something about naming a dream and putting a hope for the future into words makes it seem like a real thing, too. As in, if it’s truly a dream or desire I have, it might require action on my part, and it may not be easy. But maybe the Lord gives dreams … or at least works through them? Maybe there’s something to delighting yourself in Him and being given the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)? Maybe the closer we move towards Him, the more our hearts align with His, and the dreams of our hearts reflect His heart?

I don’t know. I don’t have a schedule for this yet. And I’m sure I won’t get it right. But I’m interested in talking about it and exploring it if you’re willing to come along for the ride.

3. Remember that baby dedication I mentioned in last month’s “5 Things” post? Well, my friend (and favorite photographer. no lie. except for these boys. they still top my list.) let me use her good camera (uh, I was a little nervous, but it was super fun!) to take a few shots of the event, and ended up using a few in this post of my favorite 9 month old (I promise she’s incredibly cute!!). Check it out. And take a few minutes to look at some other photos while you’re over at her blog. Beautiful, right?!

4. This verse has been swirling around in my heart and mind ever since I read it a couple of weeks ago…

“They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.”
Nehemiah 9:17 (ESV)

5. According to the official WordPress count (which means feed readers aren’t included…), I’m ONE blog subscriber away from 100. I know. Numbers don’t mean that much and that particular number is not really anything to write home about. But if you read my blog with some degree of regularity, would you consider subscribing to receive updates via email? (note: I blog twice a week.)

If so, see the sidebar to the right, type in your email address, and click the ‘Yes, please!’ button. If I make it over 100, I could even be convinced to have another giveaway to honor the occasion.

And just for the record, I so appreciate each and every one of you! Whether you subscribe or not. Whether you comment or not. I’m just grateful you read here and pray you walk away encouraged and filled with truth. So there.

What I’m Learning In the Everyday

Lately, it seems I’ve been in one of those seasons that is mostly characterized by the routine of the everyday.

what i'm learning in the everyday

Oh, sure, I have a couple of trips planned for later this year, I’m doing my fair share of dreaming big (which if I’m being totally honest, still feels a little different and uncomfortable because I’ve always tended more towards the practical and logical side of, well, everything), and there are new things potentially surfacing in the distant horizon, but they’re not right around the corner. So I find myself doing life right now in the everydayness of it all.

It’s good. It’s full. It’s rich. It’s demanding.

It’s just the everyday.

But I want to be wildly, unashamedly, with-abandon passionate, faithful, and focused on the Lord in the midst of this.

Because this is real life. This is relationship. This is walking with Him, trusting Him, depending on Him even when it doesn’t always “feel” like I need Him. Because I do. Desperately. In each moment of the everyday.

And perhaps because of this particular season, when it comes to living this life worthy of my calling, I find myself in the middle of learning so much that serves as a constant reminder of how unfinished and how desperately-in-need-of-Him-each-moment I really am…

I’m learning to keep my eyes fixed on Christ … even though I’m really bad it.

I’m learning to live by the Spirit in each and every moment.

I’m learning to accept the grace upon grace that Christ so freely gives.

I’m learning to walk by faith and not by sight … even when my calendar is too full and I feel like I’m operating in survival mode.

I’m learning to ask God for big things according to His will.

I’m learning to see the beauty in the small things that I far too often overlook.

I’m learning to love well by allowing Christ to fill me, so that I can be emptied on others.

I’m learning to rest in the fullness of Christ rather than attempting perfection by my own strength.

And I’m learning to crave more of Jesus Christ above all else because He is the only One who truly satisfies.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:30 (ESV)

Places I Would Love to Go

I don’t think the title of this post is grammatically correct, but I’ve spent the last two Fridays on I-85, and with two trips in the works for later this year, lately I’ve been thinking and dreaming about some of the places I would love to go.

places i would love to go

So in no particular order, I’d love to go to…

1. Hawaii – Islands. Volcanoes. Trees. Beaches. Beauty.

2. Jamaica –  I have no idea. It just sounds fun.

3. Estes Park, CO – Ok, technically I’ve already been there, but it was for business, so it was only for a couple of days and mostly spent in a hotel conference room. The pace of life out there just seems so inviting, and you can’t beat the views.

4. Italy – Does this really need further explanation?

5. Nashville, TN – I hear the culture is pretty incredible. And some of the people are pretty incredible, too.

6. Greece – Yep. I would absolutely go back there. The photo in this post is one of my favorites from Mykonos.

7. Disney World – Who doesn’t need a little Mickey Mouse in their life? And I’ve never been.

8. Africa – I have always wanted to go on a mission trip to somewhere in Africa. Hopefully someday if/as the Lord leads and allows, that will happen.

9. West Coast – Specifically, San Diego and Seattle. But really, I just want to see a sunset over the Pacific Ocean out there.

10. Guatemala – It feels like part of my heart will forever be there.

Since it’s the weekend, care to dream a little with me?

Where would you love to go?