Have you ever questioned that elusive voice that whispers so quietly from within? Where is it coming from? Is it speaking truth or deceit? Honest wisdom and guidance or false trickery?
When did you first become aware of its undeniable divine presence? When you knew that boyfriend was wrong for you all along, but didn’t listen? When you received that brilliant idea while taking a shower? When the unexplainable happened and your life was spared?
I’d love to hear when it happened for you, as I remember so vividly the day I recognized that undeniable, profound truth. I had traded reduced rent in exchange for painting my grandparent’s home one summer. I’d spent all morning working for the nursing home, followed by a few hours working at Target while trying to figure out how I could fit in a few hours at the Dollar Store before the weekend ended, along with getting my college papers written. The truth was, several of my family members were Nurses, so everyone wanted me to obtain a degree in Nursing. They told me “it’s a stable career, it pays well, it will make for a good career and that I’d be able to work anywhere.” While it’s a noble profession and I’m beyond grateful for all Nurses who serve, the trouble was everyone wanted it for me, except me.
For me personally, inspiration often comes in while I’m painting or creating. As I was in the backyard scraping and painting that old rugged home, I was struck by the undeniable, profound truth. I instantly knew what I needed to do, so I picked up the phone and made some phone calls. First, to my employers and then to my Mom. “Mom, I just quit all three jobs and I’m dropping out of college as I can’t do this anymore.” Gasping, she replied “no, you didn’t” and I responded “yes I did.” She stated very sternly and upset “no you can’t, as you have a baby you are raising, so just what do you think you are going to do?” I replied “I’m going to apply for a job out at Gateway” (yes, the computer company with the cow spotted boxes). My mom questioned me “and what if they don’t hire you?” I replied “then I will keep going back every day until they do.” The next day, I filled out an application, passed the typing test and was hired before I exited the front office.
For insight, I’ll keep this brief as I believe you’ll be able to identify the picture. My parents did the very best they could with the knowledge and resources they had, but surviving in our childhood home was no picnic. Both of my parents had mothers that had abandoned them in their early years with horrendous stories of their own, they barely graduated high school and I was born when my Mom was 17. Struggling to make ends meet led to fighting, abuse, flying glass rages, alcoholics anonymous meetings my sisters and I were forced to attend, infidelity, and drugs to bandage the emotional scars that ultimately led to divorce. I mean no disrespect and know that our parents are proud of us, that we are loved unconditionally, and I have some good memories too; but, with little time or emotional energy remaining, my sisters and I grew up very quickly. I avoided being home and spent endless days at the library or with friends as an escape from the screaming, fighting and beatings. I craved for peace and calm amidst the crisis and chaos.
Incredibly shy and vulnerable, I fell for the first guy who paid any time or attention to me. As history would repeat itself, my daughter Ashlee was born when I was also 17. Relentlessly determined that I wouldn’t allow my daughter to repeat the same childhood my sisters and I knew, it was time for me to re-write this story. Lessons are repeated until they are learned.
It was liberating to finally stand in my truth that summer afternoon with paint stained hands and ragged clothes as I set myself free from all that no longer served. With a broken wing and a prayer, the future of my daughter and I rested heavily on my shoulders. During one of my deepest, darkest nights as my daughter lay sleeping, I was feeling completely shattered, lonely and helpless. I’d contemplated giving up on life all together. Life had been pretty painful up to this point and if this was all there was, I questioned why I should even continue trying. Deep down, I knew I needed to keep doing my best, as I was all my daughter had.
In the desperation, I fiercely prayed for forgiveness and a better life for my daughter and I. The undeniable divine presence spoke very clearly to me and told me to write down my dreams. Sobbing in tears, I wrote the numbers 1-100 down the front and back sides on a sheet of paper. As I began to write my dreams, the tears got lighter and lighter until they dissipated all together. I was incredibly specific because after all, I was simply dreaming up my make believe fairy tale. While I believed most of the dreams would be impossible to accomplish, I decided I had an entire lifetime to make each one come true, which offered a glimmer of hope. The truth is, when you know what rock bottom feels like, anything better than THAT is a blessing.
Over the next few years, anytime I began to feel incomplete, I’d open my Dream Sheet, scroll through the list, locate the next dream to work on, and continue until it was achieved. Time progressed and we moved several times. A few months ago as I was decluttering and unpacking the brokenness from yesteryear, I came across that tattered, tear stained Dream Sheet again and was moved to tears as I read through the dreams one-by-one and checked the remaining achieved dreams off the list. Only two remained that were no longer dreams I needed to fulfill. Truly, our only limits are the ones we place upon ourselves!
A few items from my Dream Sheet included attending a George Strait and Garth Brooks concert, check! Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, celebration! Living on an acreage with a white picket fence where horses could roam, unbelievable! Traveling the world, amen! Making that outlandish six figure income, far easier than I thought! Marrying that 6’1” tall, dark and handsome husband that would love my daughter as his own? Well, when I eventually shared my Dream Sheet with him, he took out his driver’s license to prove his 6’1” height to me and eventually adopted my daughter!
The truth is, my once upon a time impossible fairy tale actually came true! I hadn’t realized that I’d written the script, set the stage and the plot was unfolding before my very eyes. What I once thought impossible to reach in a lifetime was fulfilled before half-time! I’m eternally grateful for the divine guidance that enters into our lives at precisely the right time, sometimes to save us from ourselves. You’ll identify it when you hear it with its swift, to-the-point truth. While it may be easier to wish away the painful parts of our lives, I’ve learned you must pick up all of those broken pieces of glass and glue them back together as it shapes us into being the masterpieces we are destined to be.
Today, my father and I have a great relationship as neither of us are who we once were and my mother is in heaven. She was taken by melanoma skin cancer at her half-time, along with my Aunt Bev. My daughter Ashlee is healing from melanoma and I’ve had several suspicious areas cut out. As my beautiful Aunt Bev shared in her final moments “none of us are promised another tomorrow, so the best we can do is to live for today.”
With this, I'm boldly on a mission to invest in projects that inspire, enlighten and empower this beautiful world in which we serve by dreaming boldly. The time has come for me to declare my next 100 dreams. Want to join me in making some dreams come true? I promise that all you find easy today, you once thought impossible. Find something greater than yourself that’s worth investing your life in, and make it happen!
I DARE YOU to DREAM BOLDLY and write those dreams down TODAY.