It’s been about three years since I’ve started on this blog journey. Only two and a half years since I launched, but there is a lot that goes into a flight plan before you are ready for takeoff. In this place I have been reflecting a lot. Reflecting on the journey that has brought me this far, and looking ahead of our map this year, pondering what the unfolding journey will look like.
As I’ve reflected, I’ve told others about my journey as they contemplate their own adventures, and so I thought I might share a bit with you, in hopes that it might be encouraging in your own life as well. It’s hard to know where to begin, really, because the journey of your life starts even before your birth, and you can look back and see the writing and the integrating of all the things you are, even as a child. For the value of conciseness, we’ll start four years ago, where I was serving on the Women’s Ministry Team at our church, working with some amazing women, leading retreats and having an outlet to teach from time to time. With my fourth babe in my arms, I felt the Lord leading me to set the Women’s Ministry commitment aside, and move more towards a more creative beckoning. I didn’t know how, I didn’t really know why, I just knew, the creative stuff inside of me was not supposed to be hidden in the corner of our basement any longer. I felt something deep calling.
During this next season of time, we walked through some really difficult life stuff. All the while, I was wondering, what was next. I had been following some blogs, in particular Miss Mustard Seed. I read (and still do read) her blog daily. It was full of creative endeavors, it was a virtual magazine of beautiful and inspiring pictures, it had tutorials explaining the how to, and she interjected the honest places of life as well. Somewhere in there, I started contemplating a blog. I had done a very poor one years before, but what I saw in my head and what was executed were two entirely different things, so I tossed it to the wayside.
Dreams of Moving Mountains
Then in November 2014, a little over three years ago, I had a dream one night. I had a dream that a 3000 ft mountain named Lazy Mountain (although I can assure you it is not lazy to climb!) which is close to our house had moved 170 miles down to a seaside town. There were more details to the dream, but the significance of the biblical reference was unmistakable. God had my attention. A friend came over to my house a couple days later and we were talking about the dreams in our hearts, about the waiting, and what those mountains were. Before we we parted she asked what was a mountain in my life, and while the mountain dream I had was significant, I had only measured it in general terms, I hadn’t applied it to my life. I thought for a moment and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about doing a blog…” But all the scary unknowns, and how to do stuff way over my head, and amazing people already doing it had me mostly convinced it was a silly dream.
My friend left for home, and I went to pick up my boys from school. Before turning onto the highway, I went to the mailbox and opened it to find a box from Marian Parsons, the Miss Mustard Seed! You have to know, I had never been in contact with her, ever. I had maybe commented on her blog once or twice, so this was a total shock and surprise. It was a birthday gift, my husband had requested three weeks previously for a note of encouragement (because he knew I looked up to her), because he was crazy enough to believe in me. However, she went way beyond his hopes and sent me a box; her own signed book, another inspiring book called The Nesting Place, samples of her milk paint all wrapped in brown paper and tied with blue and white baker’s twine.
I was blown away. I was shaking. Tears were brimming in my eyes. Not two minutes before, my friend and I had been talking about the dreams in our hearts, about moving mountains, and then at the bottom of the box I pulled out her beautiful look book, and on the front she had penned with her own hand,
“Move Mountains! Marian.”
While I realize, she probably pen’s that on a lot of books, the timing of me opening the box was unmistakably God’s set up. I was on the journey, nothing had been written or started, but I knew that day as I went to pick up my boys from school, a mustard seed of faith had been planted. Over the next couple of months, I felt momentum building in my heart. I felt a stirring to be all I was created to be. For most of my life I have felt the presence of ill-fitting boxes; you can be spiritual Cheryl and teach and inspire other’s by the power of God’s Word, OR you can make creative things. I didn’t realize it wasn’t either-or, it was BOTH-AND. God made me to teach AND he made me to create. Neither one is more spiritual; the thing that brings Him most glory is when I use my gift and call to the fullest of my ability, when I am faithful with what’s in my hands.
Counting the Cost
I’ve heard both Emily P. Freeman and Lou Engle say it, “pay attention to you tears” they are evidence of your calling. I knew where my tears were leading me. But now my tears were also letting out a secret, a secret that I was scared; scared of that thing called a blog. It was a risk. What if no one read it? (My mom would, I knew I would have one reader). But even more terrifying was, what if a lot of people read it, what if people knew who I was? The extreme introvert in me was terrified. So exactly three years ago, I asked God, actually, I begged God for another way. I ugly cried for a whole weekend straight. I asked if there was any other way to be faithful. I knew I had a choice. We always have a choice.
What He did for me that weekend was nothing less than a God walking in the Garden and talking to his beloved creation. For three days in a row, He spoke to me so clearly about who I was and what I was to do that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. The third day came with the sound of His unmistakable voice. It came in the form of a blog post by Ann Voskamp, January 26, 2015 and she might as well have just written my name in the title, Dear You Who Doesn’t Want to Do That Hard Thing. I stood reading it, shaking my head, “you have got to be kidding me!” smiling and crying all at the same time. I knew then, I had a choice, but through the tears and sacrifice, my answer was yes.
What’s In Your Hands
I was watching Hillsong TV one evening last year. I was kinda thumbing through DVR recordings, when a teaching by Jentezen Franklin caught my attention. He started reading from Exodus 4; Moses the soon to be leader of the Hebrews was asking every potential question to try and disqualify himself from his calling. Insecurity beckoned, “what if they don’t believe me?” And the One who created Moses on the earth to lead and deliver didn’t answer Moses’s question but asked another, “What’s in your hand?”
What’s in your hand. Just be faithful with what’s in your hand. The theme I had been preaching to myself all of last year. A staff, a shepherd’s staff. The thing, that gift that’s in your hand is the very thing that qualifies you for the task at hand. The outcome isn’t your responsibility, but faithfulness is. Out of obedience Moses threw the staff on the ground and it became a living, breathing snake, and Moses (like most of us would have done) ran from it.
The very thing that leads you to tears, that you know was put inside of you to make a difference, can be terrifying to the point of running. Count the cost, but as Jessica Hernandez, founder and CEO of Joyfolie, says stepping out in your calling and embracing the ups and downs of your call is “the tradeoff is that you get to make an impact in the world.”
Maybe your thing isn’t a blog, maybe it’s a business, maybe it’s starting a Bible study, or learning how to prepare healthy meals. Maybe your heart is beating to go back to school, maybe you’re contemplating mentoring, or using your nursing degree, maybe your dream is using your talent to fund a world-changing effort. I don’t know what’s got your heart terrified and beating loud. If it’s driving you to tears because you cannot not do that thing, and it’s driving you to tears because you’re terrified, you’re probably on the right path. Tears really are a lens to help us see the right path on the journey.
In her book A Million Little Ways, Emily P. Freeman writes, “As you move to the rhythm of the Spirit of God, what is within you that you can now give to someone else? Not for the glory of yourself, but as a person who bears the image of God in the world.” Being faithful in your journey is unique to you. We may be inspired by others and reawakened to dream of impossible possibilities by the hand of God. But those impossible possibilities require your hands to work as well.
I share this story with humility, and I share it with courage. I share it to encourage others to do that hard thing. I’m not Joanna Gaines, I’m not some world famous blogger, but I invite you to see me along a very humble, imperfect journey. I share with you, to encourage you that the process is the journey, and that fame and followers aren’t faithfulness. That God led me to this place and it’s not entirely what I imagined. It’s wonderful and terrifying every day. But, I hear from you. I hear that you read it. I hear that you cry, that you’re encouraged, that you’re inspired. And the days I don’t hear anything, I go back and remember how He inspired me, and invited me on a journey to move mountains…
To be continued…