5 Things I Learned this Fall (dreamer's edition)

  1. Writing makes friends and builds community.


This week my dear friend, Leslie, sent me this quote by librarian and author Lawrence Clark Powell,

"Write to be understood, speak to be heard, and read to grow."

I said a hearty,"Yes!" to all three statements. They seem to form a circle. I love to read, but it was the writing part that lingered. I have thought of it all week. Why?

I write to understand my own heart and the good and beautiful God who made me. Those two things are tied together. Then God connects me to you. But how? Sometimes face-to-face, sometimes with passions, sometimes with paint or beauty or a shared meal. But sometimes for me with strings of words.

Writing is a thread through my life creating shared space where we can meet. Sometimes I only see the line when I string words together and find a balloon at the end that I didn't know was already there. It only comes full circle when I try and connect with you about what learning we could share. I want to learn from you and offer you my lessons.

  1. Write down your dreams.

I heard Candance Cameron Bure on The Open Door Sisterhood podcast with my friends Krista Gilbert and Alexandra Kuykendall. Yes, I am talking about D.J. from Full House. Not a bad place to start, but she is so much more than "Deej". She is as wise as she is beautiful. Candance said she has always written down her dreams in her journal. It is one way she sees God at work in her life, and when an opportunity comes along from her list, she is ready to recognize it.

As soon as I was back from my rainy walk with the Alex, Krista, and Candace, I ran to my commonplace book and wrote at the top, "Writing Down my Dreams". I immediately had seven dreams to jot down. Now, I realize that they will not suddenly come true. I have work to do. But see what I mean about number one above?

It's funny, but I have recognized opportunities that fit my dreams when I have gotten my dreams down from my head into my heart. That is how I knew to say yes to my Open Door Sisterhood invitation. But putting a pen to my dreams and seeing the words appear on the page was magical. I already feel more ready to work towards them.

The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast interveiw with Candance Cameron Bure

  1. Write down those dreams even when they seem gauzy and impossible.


For years, maybe 20 years or more, I had this dreamy thought I'd like to attend Seminary. Then, as my children started leaving the nest and getting married, I started talking about it outloud. Still, without any real plan to apply. Something brought that dream into sharp focus. Maybe it was when my youngest daughter was married last Christmas. Maybe it was my oldest son and his family moving to Georgia. Maybe I was finally tired of standing on the riverbank. I suddenly realized it was either time to get wet or stop talking as if I might.

After dreaming gauzy for way too long, I decided, applied, was accepted, and began all in a matter of about a week. It was enough to make my head spin and my heart soar. But it was not impulsive. This dream had been slumbering in my soul and rising in my heart like a bubble ready to pop or float away. Have you ever requested an undergraduate transcript from 33 years ago? It is humbling to scroll for-evah to enter your graduation date, even more so for your birthday.

But nevermind. I am completely overwhelmed and enthralled. I already have what are quickly becoming life-long friends. It was time for me to go, but I do wonder what would have happened had I actually put pen to paper with those words, "go to seminary" way back in the early days of thinking about it. Yes, even before it seemed feasible or possible. That's when we write them down, when they are crazy. That is when God does his best work.

  1. Don't expect to know everything before you go for your dreams.


I always thought I had a good heart for decision-making. It went something like this. When an opportunity or request is offered, pray first. If you have it, take a day or three to let the opportunity marinate, count the costs, and talk with the people who know and love you. During that time, I could see if my gifts would benefit the project or if it might grow my faith or I could even get a spark of an idea ahead of time. For the most part that worked well for the decisions presented by others with a deadline.

But other decisions seem to have no deadline. Those are the one-day dreams we may think we plenty of time to fulfill one day. In truth, all dreams have a time for fulfillment. We may not need to rush them or grab them out of season. I did not start Seminary until my 57th year, and while I can wonder if I waited too long, the timing is perfect for me.

And here is what I learned about my one-day dream of going to seminary. The road to our dreams narrows in the distance and bends around the corner. We cannot see it all at the start. And we want to in the most desperate way. The road almost always gets rocky at some point making us question the whole dream. But it doesn't have to be all or nothing. The hardest decisions to make may require us to separate the biggest decisions (dreams) into six parts: the call (what?), the timing (when?), the destination (where?), the reason (why?), the method (how), and the people (who?).

That is what I learned with my seminary dream. I wanted to know all six parts together before I got into the water. Since I didn't yet know all the parts, I kept waiting. Finally, it occurred to me that God doesn't work that way. He told Abraham, "Go from your familiar place to the place I will show you." Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, without knowing where he was going.

Abraham did not have all of the answers he likely wanted. He only had parts of the vision. Still, he went when God called. That is faith - waiting without seeing the full way and/or going without seeing the full way. Even Jesus had to do that. Either way, all we can have is God's promise of nearness. And that is enough.

  1. Don't be afraid to start your dreams small and uncommon, and always with community.


My friend, Heidi, gave me a tiny leather dictionary for my birthday. On the inside it reads, "The special aim of this Dictionary is to give the uncommon words found only in the largest dictionaries." That is a big goal for such a small book. This tiny edition in blush, reminiscent of a baby book from another era, (mine!) measures only about 2 inches by 3 inches. Oh, but the pages are gilded and it includes the word "gloaming", a vintage word for twilight.

My friendship with Heidi began small much like this little leather-bound collection of words. Our youngest children started dating their freshman year. I mostly said hello druing that time, trying not to forge a friendship too soon. When the kids kept dating, we became walking buddies. Seven years later, our kids are married to each other and we are mama-in-laws together. When I opened this dictionary and read that goal, I felt as though the aim of our friendship was to give uncommon love not often found between in-laws.

Dont be afraid of small and uncommon, just go in community.

This reflection of one season before moving into the next is done in community at the close of each over at Emily P. Freeman's spot int he world. It keeps me becoming wholehearted.

If you like this idea, join us, or read a few from other seasons:

What We Learned this Summer (childhood edition)

What We Learned this Spring (songwriter edition)