Saturday, November 5, 2016

Living the Dream

I had a dream...

No, I'm not about to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech. This is just the random thought that was in my head this morning. Actually, it's been on my mind quite a bit lately. I HAD a dream...and I wonder what happened to it.

At the tender young age of 57, I'm starting to wonder whatever happened to that dream I felt the Lord first put on my heart when I was only 16. I vividly remember standing in church saying I felt a call to ministry...I'm sure everyone in the congregation of that tiny Baptist church loved my zeal all the while knowing that "women don't go into ministry unless they become missionaries." Still, I had a dream that I felt God had placed in my heart.

Over the years, that dream has changed a little. For a while, I did serve "in ministry." I worked at church as Children's Director/receptionist/bulletin and newsletter developer, (that meant I typed and ran copies.) Still, I had the secret dream that felt unfulfilled. I knew that the dream included speaking before people...lots of people. I know that sounds pretty arrogant, but honestly, I felt like God was placing a word of encouragement and challenge in me that I had to share.

After God blessed us with two children, ironically, I felt that my time as a Children's Director was coming to a close. I went to my pastor who prayed with me for direction and within just a few months, I found myself in a classroom teaching full time. I didn't even have a "teaching degree," but I went through the Alternate Route program in my state and my BS in Advertising became my foot in the door of the classroom. (Pretty fitting since advertising is a lot like have to convince your "audience" that they need your product enough to buy in.) 

I started by teaching in a private Christian school but still felt that I wasn't quite where God wanted me - yet. The very next year, He directed me to a public school only a mile from my home. And yes, I do mean directed me. I vividly remember feeling that "nudge" to go by that school at a very particular time of day, only to run into someone who was once again, my foot in the door. Long story short - I worked in that school for 7 years. I still run into or hear from former students that remind me of how blessed I was to be a part of that school.

Then, I felt the Lord direct me to step out in faith because He was getting ready to move me. Trouble was, I had no idea where! Of course, God knew and it was the perfect place for me to teach. I was blessed to teach there for five years before once again I felt that nudge. 

This time, I felt led to another school in my district that I really knew very little about. I wasn't even sure where it was. When I asked others, the first response was "Why do you want to go there?" with a very questioning face. Evidently, no one wanted to go there. All I could say was, I think God is leading me. Turns out He was and I have had an awesome four years at this school. I've had good days and bad, but don't we all; still, I love this school and community. But I've got to be honest...I still have that dream - the one I had back when I was 16. 

I remember going to my pastor, (yes, the same one) a few years back and sharing my dream of writing and publishing and speaking. His response was something along the lines of, "What can I do to help you with this?"  I told him, "Nothing." I just felt I needed to speak to my spiritual covering and check with him to see if I was off base. I was totally leaving it up to God as to how He wanted to go about making this happen. That was it. The skies didn't open, the angels didn't sing, I didn't quit my job and suddenly hit the evangelistic speaking circuit. I went back to my classroom.

Since then, I have self-published some of my writing in limited supply and actually have been blessed to have two of my blogs shared in a book of devotions, but mostly it's just been tapping out on my computer and sharing on facebook and occasionally checking to see if anyone has read the blog. No speaking engagements, no big book deals, just words on the computer screen. 

Other friends who have been writing for only a short time excitedly tell me of the book they are having published and I smile and cheer for them all the while wondering why my writing still only graces the screens of a few friends and loyal supporters. But the dream? Well, if anything, it looks like the dream is getting farther and farther from my reach. 

Then this morning, out of the blue, came a thought. 

My dream was to share encouragement and challenge while standing before a crowd of people...and in an instant, my students flashed into my mind. 

Every day, I get the opportunity to share the hope of God and encouragement from His Word and the challenge to hold tight to the promise that He has a purpose for your life. Oh, don't worry; I am not violating the rules of the public school classroom. I don't specifically preach the "gospel" as in Bible verses, and there are never any altar calls in my classroom. Instead, I just share the promises I know are true in simple everyday conversation. I challenge them to be thankful in all things, to be gentle with those they disagree with, to listen more than speak, but to not be afraid to speak when they see injustice, and most of all I share hope and love - not hope and love that could possibly come from an old, out-of-touch, somewhat quirky teacher, but hope and love that comes from my Father. Real hope. Real love.

So, I guess you could say I am living the dream, it just didn't look like I thought it would. 

I am still writing - and I do my best to share what I believe God shows me. Sometimes it's just for me, but every once in a while, it touches someone else as well. And the speaking? Well, I've been teaching now for 17 years. The first year I taught art so I had about 240 students (more or less). Since being in the regular classroom, I've taught at least 60 students each day, most years closer to 75. So, you do the math, (because I'm an English teacher!) I've shared what God has given me with hundreds...maybe even close to a thousand lives. It may not look like what I thought it would, but my life really is a dream come true.

Jeremiah 29:11The Voice (VOICE)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.

John 10:10b The Message
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Numbers 23:19The Voice (VOICE) 

God is not a man—He doesn’t lie.  God isn’t the son of a man to want to take back what He’s said, Or say something and not follow through, or speak and not act on it.

World English translation: Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?

Thoughts to ponder:
1. Do you have a dream that you know God gave you but it doesn't seem to be coming to pass? Take another look at your life. Is it possible it has already come true, just not in exactly the way the limited human mind can see?

2. What difference will it make in your life if you realize that the dream has not died, it just looks a little different than you imagined.

Please feel free to comment or share...and as always, thank you for reading.

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