Life. Is. Messy.

The past few months, God has been teaching me to appreciate things a little more deeply. In the midst of this little life lesson, a few other things have come up. Things like love and trust and daring to take chances in places where I’ve failed in the past. And the more I dwell on these things, the more I come to realize that…

Life. Is. Messy.

You won’t make it to the other side without a few bruises and scars. And if you do, you have not experienced the fullest extent of what life was intended to be.

The other day, I busted out the finger paints at the preschool where I work, and you should have seen those kids’ faces. They know how to live. They know how to dive in with both hands and make the most of the messes. They understand what it means to create beauty from chaos.

You would think that children so young are only just learning to live, but I’ve discovered that life and wonder are something you have from birth and are only in danger of forgetting as the years go by. These kids—three and four years old—know the secret to changing the world. Or perhaps they are merely the only ones who are unafraid to try.

I’ve met a lot of admirable people, and I’ve been inspired by the stories of those who have chased their dreams and caught them. But if you were to ask me right now who I want to be like when I grow up, I would probably name one of those bright-eyed children who left their perfect, messy hand prints on my heart. Because, yes, there have been days when my heart was touched by a motivational story, but these children inspire me. Every. Single. Day.

Because of them, I can find beauty in the hundredth rainbow I draw. Because of them, I clap my hands when their constant excavating of the playground uncovers an earthworm.

“You should paint your nails,” they say, and I do. “You should braid your hair,” they encourage, and I will. Because the simplest things delight them and, somehow, their wide-eyed wonder sinks into my heart and makes me delight in the little things, too.

And if I must grow up, I want to do so with at least a hint of the wonder that dances in the eyes of a three-year-old boy when you let him experience the world upside-down for the umpteenth time. I want to live with his trusting heart that is not the least bit concerned that I may drop him on his head. I want to know what it’s like to live with such abandon. But mostly, I want to dive into life headfirst with both hands, unafraid of the messes. Because as a handful of preschoolers recently made abundantly clear to me…

I Refuse to Wait

My roommate and I have decided that we’ve missed half of the year. What I mean by that is, it’s the last day of August and I hardly remember experiencing the first. Thus far, 2012 has been one, big blur which is kind of disappointing amidst all my “live the journey” talk.

Because I haven’t been living the journey. I haven’t been embracing the moments like I should.

I’ve been getting caught up in the big things and allowing the rest to simply slip by. But the problem is, life isn’t comprised of the big things. It’s the little things—the everyday things—that I’m missing. And there went most of my year…

Sometimes living Beyond Waiting is easy, but lately it’s been hard. Sometimes I can lose myself in wonder without even realizing I’m doing it, but recently I’ve had to remind myself to be impressed by the little things. Recently, I’ve been repeating the phrase, “I refuse to wait.” Because living—truly living—it would seem, is a choice. And waiting—merely waiting—comes far too easily.

Time and time again, I find myself getting caught up in anticipation of the big moments, forgetting that each day is a gift. That the day I’m living right now will never be lived again. (And some days I’m thankful for that, but for the most part…)

I’ve spent most of my life waiting for tomorrow and missed far too many todays.

But right now, in this moment, I have a chance to change that pattern. I can choose not to spend my time waiting. I can turn my mind from future worries and live—simply live—today.

God gives me a handful of moments and it’s up to me to decide if I’m going to cradle them to my chest or watch them fall around my feet.

Today, I can boldly say that I refuse to wait, as I take my first step toward embracing wonder anew.

Two Whole Years…

Two years ago today, I started a blog because I was told it was one of the best things a writer can do.

Two years ago today, I really had no idea what direction my life was heading.

Two years ago today, I only dreamed of becoming a published author.

Two years ago today, I had no idea how close I was to making my dreams come true.

Two years ago today, if I could have seen two years into the future, my mind would be completely blown away. As it is right now.

I really cannot believe how far God has brought me in the last two years.

Today, I’m still blogging and loving it. I love the days where the words come easily and I’m thankful for the days where I learn to work to force them out.

Today, I still have no idea what direction my life is going, but I’m hanging on for the ride and letting God take care of the rest.

Today, I am a published author. And I just sent off a proposal for Book #2.

Today, I can say that I watched my wildest dream unfold before my eyes. And the dream just keeps getting better.

Today, I’m completely and totally in awe of how amazing God is, and I’m looking forward watching His hand at work in the next two years of my life.

Not Exactly Glamorous Dreams

“Rebekah,” my pregnant co-worker said to me one day, “there are a lot of things people don’t tell you about pregnancy. It’s not glamorous!”

I laughed at her choice of words, but understood what she was saying. What girl hasn’t imagined what it will be like to have children one day? What girl hasn’t fantasized that pregnancy is more, well, glamorous than it actually is? For thirty years, my co-worker envisioned being a mother and nurturing a child, but she wasn’t exactly prepared for all the crazy side effects that would befall her during the nine months she carried her daughter.

But pregnancy isn’t the only dream that loses its glamour. All your life, you dream of growing up and moving out and then it happens. You’re on your own. Independent. And suddenly you find that you just want your mommy. You set out with a plan to conquer the world, and suddenly it feels as if the world is conquering you. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen,” you think.

Because somewhere in your dream world, you have your life all mapped out, but you never left room for reality… until it came crashing in and destroyed your carefully-set foundation like an ocean wave rushing over a sandcastle. You immediately set to work shaping bridges and towers, but never anticipated the tide.

Life, in all its ebbs and flows, has a way of waking us up.

I sat down to write a proposal last week. First I tried to describe the heart of my book in two sentences. Then I allowed myself a page. And as I worked to describe and compare and sell my dream, I found myself growing more and more frustrated with this daunting task. This author thing, I realized, is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not glamorous. But it is worth it. Because whether or not it is everything I imagined it would be, it is my dream.

I cradled it, cherished it, nurtured it, and willed it into being. I’m an author. And I’m writing words that I love. And I’m writing words that I hate. And I’m striving to weave words more effectively and speak truth more freely. And I’m learning–always learning–that sometimes the things we didn’t anticipate are the best things of all.

Because my dream… it’s bigger than I am. In many ways, it’s not my dream at all. Many, many years ago, in a place I can’t quite recall, Someone breathed this dream into being and said, “Here, Rebekah, it’s yours. And it may not be glamorous. And it may not be easy. But you’re going to shape it and it’s going to shape you.”

So here’s to the not-so-glamorous dreams that make us who we are.

I Had a Dream… Once.

I’m currently obsessed with dreams. Scratch that. I’ve always been obsessed with dreams. I think that’s the root of my fascination with fairytales. But lately my obsession has been a little more pronounced. I’m thinking about dreams on a daily basis. And not just my own dreams. A blogger friend of mine just announced that she quit her day job to pursue a dream and I literally started bouncing up and down in excitement.

That’s how much dreams thrill me.

So, there’s this scene in Tangled (if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to) where Rapunzel asks some rough-looking guys in a tavern if they’ve ever had a dream. And one exceptionally scary-looking guy says, “I had a dream once.” And then, because it’s an animated fairytale, he bursts into song declaring that he always wanted to be a concert pianist. This opens the stage for all of the other guys to start sharing the dreams they never lived until they send Rapunzel off with an encouragement to go live her dream. It’s actually all very inspiring except… Except you realize that they’re still there. In the tavern. Not living their dreams.

So maybe I’m young and naive and yet to face any serious disappointment, but I just can’t imagine doing anything other than what I feel like I was made to do. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life just getting by while the spark of a dream flickers in my heart. I can’t imagine just letting my dreams die.

That’s why the next book that is churning in my head has everything to do with keeping hope alive. And that’s why I’ve asked a few incredible ladies to share their stories with you in the weeks to come. Because we weren’t made to dream alone.  And sometimes all it takes to keep us pressing onward is a little bit of encouragement from someone who has been there.

So prepare for a month of dreams.

Becoming Approachable {A Guest Post}

I may have made a comment that got me in trouble. Or I may have made a comment that got me out of trouble. I’m still trying to decide.

All I know is that when Renee Johnson Fisher asked me to write a guest post about being approachable, I kind of freaked out. See, I don’t consider myself an authority on the subject.



So I thought of all the reasons I was unqualified to write this post, but then I thought maybe… just maybe… my disqualifications are actually qualifications in disguise.

Because maybe the person who is naturally approachable can’t write a post that resonates with the rest of us.

And maybe my story will encourage you on your journey of becoming approachable.

Read the story on Devotional Diva.

Stand With Them

I’m not sure how much you know about the plight of Christians around the world. If you’re the typical American, it’s probably not much. After all, we’ve lived pretty sheltered lives here in the States. And it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. Unless we are looking for something else, we only see what is happening around us. I don’t fault you for that. I’m often the same way. And I spent two years of my life working at a missions organization.

There are so many things I could have written today. My journals are littered with scattered thoughts of a hundred blog posts. I could have picked any one of them. But yesterday I learned that Christians in Nigeria are being murdered for their faith. Today I read that Egypt’s new president is pushing Shari’a law. And now, I can’t focus on anything other than my brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering in the midst of these circumstances… and other circumstances that have yet to reach my ears.

These people aren’t just an idea to me. Not a general, “Someone around the world is suffering.” They have names and faces. I’ve met them. Carried on conversations with them long into the night. And though they live in different countries and speak different languages and lead different lives, they are no different than you and me. Some of these people suffering are my friends. And even if they weren’t, they are fellow Christians. My brothers and sisters in the family of God.

It is my job, my honor, my pleasure to stand with them. To hurt because they hurt and to fear because they fear. But also to hope when they find it hard to hope and to pray with their same desperate cries as if I were suffering alongside them. Because I am suffering alongside them. And if you had the privilege of calling these precious people your friends, you’d be suffering too.

And I don’t usually do this, but since it is the singular cry of my heart this morning, I’m going to ask you to take a moment and pray. Pray for Egypt. Pray for Nigeria. Pray for every country in which someone is being persecuted today. Stand with your brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Cry their tears, taste their fears, and join your voices with theirs in a glorious song of hope and deliverance.

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” ~Hebrews 13:3

Learning to Thrive {A Guest Post}

I write about dreams. A lot. You might even say I’m obsessed with them. Which is good, I think, because, in a world that has forgotten how to experience the wonder of a fairytale, someone has to believe in dreams coming true. But I think I tend to focus on the pretty parts. I talk mostly about the wonder of the actual dreams rather than the tiresome details of making the dream happen. As a friend of mine once so eloquently phrased it, “It’s not glamorous.”

So today I’m sharing my story on The Girl That Sings. Today I’m giving you a glimpse into the not-so-glamorous side of dreams. But of course I’m going to tell you that it’s still worth it. Because…

“God doesn’t call us to stand on our own; He calls us to stand with Him. He won’t put a dream in our hearts and leave us to figure it out on our own.”

So be encouraged by the girl who survived and learned to thrive. Read the story here.

Someone Else’s Dream

I got a phone call on Friday morning asking if I could bail a friend out and watch his kids on Saturday. In my mind I knew that there were twenty other things I should probably be doing. The rest of my weekend was completely booked and the only time I had to do all those things that needed to be done was Saturday morning. I probably should have spared myself the chaos and said no, but I didn’t.

And as I was making a dessert for another commitment and writing an article until eleven o’clock at night, I started to wonder why I had over-committed myself. Why was I putting off (or rushing through) all these need-to-do, have-to-do, want-to-do things so I could watch a couple of kids instead? The answer was pretty simple:

I believe in Isaiah’s dream.

You know how you can watch a ballerina dance or a musician play and get the feeling that the person was made for this? That’s how I felt the first time I saw Isaiah do a Wild Earth Encounters presentation.

And here my friend had been handed an amazing opportunity that he could only be part of if someone would watch his kids for a day. I couldn’t say no. Because the only thing more wonderful than chasing after your dreams is giving someone else an opportunity to chase theirs.

So believe in your dreams and pursue them with everything that is within you, but never become so focused on your dreams that you neglect someone else’s. Let your friends know that you believe in their dreams and always be willing to come alongside them and show your support.

Trust me, even on the craziest days you won’t regret it.

Unfinished Stories

Once upon a time there was a girl who weaved stories in her spare time ~ a girl who dreamed of touching the world in a way that was deep and true, poetic and magical. But this girl was told that she would never touch the world in such a way, that such dreams were made for the fairytales, and that “real life” as we call it doesn’t work that way. “Impossible,” they told her.

And sometimes she believed them.

But then there was Hope ~ a flimsy, fragile creature that alighted on her shoulder and whispered endless possibilities in her ear. And the heroine of this story had to choose between the cold reality the skeptics screamed and the joyous promise Hope offered.

The end.

Because, as Laini Taylor wrote in her book Daughter of Smoke and Bone, “The story is unfinished. The world is still waiting.”

The world still waits for hope and dreams and magical things that flutter around on fairy-like wings. The world still waits for promises kept and tears of compassion that haven’t been wept. The world still waits for someone who will step right over What Hasn’t Been Done and embrace All That They Should Do.

The world is waiting for you.

And while the unfinished story that started this post is entirely mine, you are an unfinished story, too. You’re an unfinished story with intricate details of a plot and a purpose that hasn’t been fully formed. You can write whatever you want on the pages of your life. You can choose to listen to what the skeptics scream or step up and embrace your impossible dream. And while what you should choose sounds so easy in writing, it’s hard to silence the skeptics. It’s hard to hold onto Hope.

That’s why I determined to let God finish my story. Because while I so often lose sight of the things that are important, God never does. So I promised Him that I would hold the pen if only He would guide my hand. And in light of my dangerous promise, God asked me to do something I had decided I never wanted to do again ~ at least not for a long time.

I’m working up a proposal for another non-fiction book. It’s about hopes and dreams and how God turns nobodies into somebodies, but that’s all I’m going to share for now.

After all, the story is unfinished, so I’ll have to leave you waiting.

In the meantime, go write a story of your own.