More than Dreams

We stepped off of the plane into 100% humidity in the pitch black of Halloween night in West Africa. Nothing could have prepared us for the uncertainty of our first few weeks living in the dank upstairs room of the long term worker’s house. We wondered if we would ever make it to our intended destination. We were stuck without transportation, or knowledge of where we were going for that matter, and saddled with a project working on the roof of the house we were staying in.

This was anything but what we envisioned when we were selling off our crockpot and winter clothes to pick up and move across the sea.

It wasn’t what we envisioned, but it might have been what we prayed for. Here’s the catch in all of this overseas work- we pray, commit, and GO! We are sent and we think we know what that looks like because we lisped prayers of “Here AM I! Send me!” It has to look like teaching in a native school with uniformed children on time and eager to learn.  It’s supposed to look like ease in learning the local language. It absolutely looks like planting a fully functioning native body of believers before our term is over. It’s bound to be deep connection with our teammates who have the same ministry goals as our own. Right? RIGHT?!?!?!?!

This is the stuff of letters home and financial stability. Until it’s not and our lives overseas look more like an episode of The Walking Dead. As in everybody’s watching and it’s kind of gross.

In recent months as we’ve added our third baby into our already full life I’ve more and more thought of the dreams I had and how I thought my life would look by this point. I confess the busyness that defers our dreams, the hopes still unfulfilled, the not now portions of life can wear me around the edges.

When I cast a glance behind me at prayers spoken in earnest I find them to be much more broad then perhaps the ideals I set out in my head. Can you relate? It’s no wonder we find ourselves with different realities then we would have hoped or guessed. We prayed for God to “use us” claiming “Here I am!” and guess what? He did. He is. It simply looks nothing like we thought it would.

I have an allergic reaction to cliches, but at risk of sounding so, I won’t in order to make a bold assertion. Perhaps His intent for us is not so much to check all the boxes of our imagined lives, but to live out something Divine with implications for our interior life to be holier on the other side. Ministry that honors God, in any form, really isn’t if it is something we have created in our image.

My thirty-four year old self is in many ways the stuff of my nineteen year old self’s nightmares. Thankfully God is good to change our dreams and help us embrace the life He has given us. I am thirty-four and standing on a precipice overlooking the rest of my life wondering, “Where do I go from here?”

What I am realizing is deeper dreams have sprouted in the upturned soil of my soil. Dreams which were off radar when I stepped off a plane onto African dirt nearly a decade ago. These new dreams are growing from places in my spirit that simply didn’t exist ten years ago. Without failure, disillusionment and struggle these dreams might never have started. My point isn’t to stop dreaming. Instead hold your dreams loosely seeing them as a conduit for God to round sharp edges, mold a hard heart and ultimately do with you more than you could have imagined.

What dreams have you had to let go of? How is God growing a new thing in your spirit?


  1. Helen May 1, 2018

    My dream of serving in China was so much shorter than I would have liked it to be, but I also said:”here I am send me,” and He did, right back to South Africa. Feeding hungry children and adults is not a romantic work. You speak to people in their little homes. You sit on the edge of a little couch that has no stuffing left and smells of urine. The cockroaches are everywhere. You give them some secondhand clothes for the children, who has nothing, just to find a week later that the children still has no clothes, the clothes that you”ve given was sold to supply in the parents addiction.
    But through it all one of these dirty little kiddies finds his way into your heart and home. The process of adoption is long and tyring. His people gave him up easily, happy to be rid of an extra burden. Granddad was not coping, dad is in jail and mom left years ago. We have a nine year old in the house who is learning how to blow his nose. Yesterday I heard him say: “my mom, my granny, my bed, my lamp, my cuboard, my clothes, my books, my toys.” His smile stretched from ear to ear. He does not have what most children of his age has. No bikes or electronic games, but the little we have been able to supply is so much mire than he ever had before! It is 3am, I am awake because it is time to take our little boy to the toilet, we had a dry bed now for two nights, maybe this will be night three.

  2. Spring May 1, 2018

    oh my you spoke to my heart.. especially this line: My thirty-four year old self is in many ways the stuff of my nineteen year old self’s nightmares. ha ha I am sure it is my nightmare.. especially the daily sweatfest where I just can’t smell good no matter how hard I try. 🙂 Thank you for putting feelings to words and directing our hearts to the correct place.

  3. Hannah May 1, 2018

    As someone just starting out and still in the walking dead stage of life overseas, living in the middle of unfulfilled hopes and expectations – this is an encouragement to my heart. Thank you!

  4. Katie Rose May 2, 2018

    Wow! I wish I had read this three years ago, as I was preparing to return to India for a two-year term that I thought was the ultimate dream fulfillment of my life spent looking at the nations, longing to live there. But God. In those two years, he dismantled that dream (shattered it, really). And you know, I thought he had shattered me, too. But he’s been showing me this year — after nine months back on US soil — that he didn’t destroy me or the parts of my identity that he is making room for here and now, in this new dream that hasn’t felt
    like a dream at all until he calls it that and says that’s what he’s doing. New dreams. New soil. New growth. Only he does these things. We’re simply called to abide and, I think, to let ourselves dream with him. Psalm 126 is a psalm for the dreamers, who dare to let God lead them in their dreams, even when they don’t feel good or only bring tears at first. It has always been an encouragement for me. Thanks again for sharing these words!!

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