Speak the Dream

My dad asked me if I could have any job right out of graduate school, what would it be. I didn’t have to think too hard, though my answer surprised him: “I want to work at Starbucks.”

His points were valid. I’d just spent five years in a duel-level program and was about to graduate with both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and here I am telling him that I want to work behind a counter serving coffee. I worked that job in high school.

There was something about the job that drew me in still – working with my hands, crafting a beverage for someone to enjoy, interacting with customers. I’d spent the past five years working with my mind – reading books, writing papers, and research, research, research. My graduate program was in counseling which not only exhausted my mind but my heart.

It sounded like a good idea to steam some milk and pull an espresso shot, to work with my hands.


I’d forgotten about it during this conversation with my dad that day on the cusp of my graduation seven years ago. But just years earlier, during my second year of college, I’d written out my dream for “some day.” You know that some-day-dream – the one you dare to hope for and sometimes dare to even write down on paper. These kinds of dreams I would barely speak out loud. But one day, nearly ten years ago, I typed my dream into a Word document.

I found that document a few weeks ago while looking through old journal entries from college. I have them all saved, along with every class assignment, on an external hard drive I only take out now when I’m backing up my computer. One recent afternoon as I was preparing for a backup, I opened a few random files. They’re named with the dates they were written, rather than with indication of the content.  I opened the file called “September 6” and I read:

I tend to get really into things. Like, if I think of an idea, I will get super excited about it for a week or so and then it goes away. But should the knowledge of that keep me from dreaming? I don’t think so. I think that the biggest loss is the loss of a dream. Worse still, when you prevent yourself from losing a dream, when you kill the dream inside of you. I cannot kill the dream inside of me. If the Lord decides to point me in a different direction, than that’s one thing. But if I were the one to say, “I cannot do this,” that’s not fair. I am here to use my gifts and abilities to glorify God and to live life to its fullest! So I should take what I learned in Missionary Life and Work from Jack O’Brien, and keep pushing ahead with what I know to do, and if God wants me to change direction, He will change my mind.

I’m preparing myself to put it into words. I can sense my fear. As I read now, I cheer on my past self. “Say it! You can do it! Write the words! Speak the dream!”

I do it. In my dorm room in 2006 on a refurbished brick of a laptop I wrote:

So if my dream is to open a bed and breakfast / café / pub, then who is stopping me from doing it? At this point, it would only be ME.

I stared at the screen for a second, rereading what I’d written so many years ago. I remember writing this. I remember the fear and I remember thinking, “How could this even happen?” And I also remember thinking, “Why not?”

In the following paragraph I wrestled with this dream for a business and my desire to be married. I write how having this dream gives me a sense of purpose, something to work toward. I dream a bit more: maybe I’ll start this business and then get married, maybe I’ll meet a man who shares the same dream and we can pursue it together. Maybe there are things I’ll miss out on by now dating during college, but maybe that won’t be something I’ll regret.

With resolve and focus I commit to follow God and I commit to taking action steps. I list out how I will “do the next thing,” as Elisabeth Elliot once wrote. I will speak this dream out loud to a mentor. I will pray. And I will do my homework.

I sent this piece of writing to that mentor. “Remember when?” I wrote. We laughed together that even though the dream doesn’t look exactly how I pictured it, God placed something in my heart that He is bringing about in a more beautiful way that I could imagine.

We may not have a bed and breakfast, but we have a lot of guests and may as well be.

We may not have a pub, but we’re interning at a Beverage Design Studio.

I didn’t date much during college, but I married a man who shares my dreams and commitment to follow Jesus, and was even the one who suggested we open a coffee shop.

We’re opening the coffee shop this year. It’s not in Europe, as I thought. It won’t have a beach-theme, as I pictured. But it’s even better than I could have dreamed.


Immeasurably More

Originally posted on December 2, 2013, this story took place four years ago today.  Like the Israelites set stone markers to remember the faithfulness of the Lord, I have these posts. I’m thankful for what He has done, how He has spoken, and what He will continue to do.

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I set my vanilla rooibos down on the table that faces the window. I plug in my earphones, put the buds in my ear, join the Starbucks Wi-Fi and open the Pandora app: John Mark McMillan. I open my Bible. The music starts playing. I’m shaking.

I blink, then stare at my Bible. I open my journal and clutch my pen. I begin writing.

“January 1, 2012.”

I skip a line.

“Well that feels weird. 2012. Who’d of thought I’d make it this far?”

How do I say this? How do I start a new year with words to express what has just happened? Where do I begin? How do I quiet my soul to know for sure that these words God’s Spirit has spoken are true?

Fear. Fear of waiting. Fear of pain. Longing. Hope. Hasn’t God proven Himself trustworthy over this past year?

“How dare I not trust now,” I write, “Follow Him with pure, holy, defiant hope. Hope that will look silly to the world.”

It will look silly to the world. It sounds silly even to me. My mind must be playing tricks; my heart is surely not trustworthy. How will I know? I know.

“I keep trying to work it out in my head. And what if it doesn’t happen? But what if it does?”

Okay. I’m listening now. I’ve been running, but You got my attention. Clearly you said what You did, when You did, how You did for the shock value. But what is the point of trying to understand the ways of God?

I was in the shower. Somewhere between washing my hair and rinsing the soap, somewhere between daydreaming about the possibilities of online dating and planning my afternoon – You spoke.  It was clear:

“I have for you to marry Trent and move to the Philippines.”

The next few seconds were a tornado of thoughts and emotions. Trent? We haven’t spoken in months. Sure, I like him. Very much. But he’s in the Philippines. And You… You want me where? Trent did send me that tweet this morning. What verse did he mention? “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” Maybe I’m thinking this because he just wrote. Maybe it’s me. Maybe… no. No, this isn’t me. This feeling, this makes me want to worship.

I dropped to my knees. Right there in the shower.  I dropped to my knees and no words came, only surrender.


I came to Starbucks to read. I came to saturate myself in God’s truth so that I would know for sure that these are His words. I read through Ephesians, writing down every thought, every question, every verse that jumps out. As I write, the music also spoke out:

I’ve slept through the sunrise
And I turned away every time it got bright
So, I won’t run when it looks like love. (Needtobreathe)

I’m just not strong enough
I can’t do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me
I try to be good enough
But I’m nothing without Your love
Savior, please keep saving me. (Josh Wilson)

When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me. (David Crowder Band)

I doubt I’ve heard Your voice because I doubt You to be this good. You speak these words to me because You want me to believe that You are this good. When I embrace this calling, allow this longing, my heart opens. I was closed; I was protecting myself. When I open myself to this…Trent… the Philippines, my heart feels open to love again. To love and to accept love. Lord, give me the strength to wait.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).”

I breathe deeply. I’ve reached the end of a page. I’m finished for today.

With a full heart and a mind at burdened rest, I pack up my things, throw away my empty cup and walk toward the car. Getting inside, I press the power button on the car’s sound system. The CD begins where it last left off. I pull out of the parking lot and turn left toward home.

So how should I come to the one I love? I will find a way,” Jason Gray sings as I wind up the tree-arched road.

He sings of Mary. He sings of sending His Son to a lonely, faithful girl who has protected her heart to a point where He will break through her walls by placing love within them. By this He will save the world.

God sees me and knows me. I’ve protected my heart to a point where He will break through my walls by placing love within them. By this He will change my world.

I wrote a few more posts about this journey in waiting. They’re located on my previous blog and you can read them by clicking the link here.

Part 2: Beauty in Waiting


Orange Crap

Orange Crap
Orange Crap. Made of orange jello, carrots, and pineapple, this holds the reigning title as my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. Dessert disguised as something healthy (after all, there are carrots), cuddling between the stuffing and the turkey. My taste buds sing on contact.

The carrots are shredded, a task I rarely remember my mom doing each year as the dish magically appeared chilling in the refrigerator the night before the grand meal. But I do remember one year, a very long time ago, sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, holding the grater with my very small hands.

It’s a distant dream, one that isn’t quite mine. It only comes back as my now-larger hands grasp the grater and the carrot. I am now the creator of the magic. I pause over the ceremonial vegetable massacre and I smell her cigarettes. I feel loved. I feel connected.

It was later in life that Mom revealed the secret – this was the recipe of her own grandmother: a woman called Julie who I barely even met in stories. Julie, called Duddie by her friends and Mom by her kids, was my grandfather’s mother. She lived just the next town over from my mom growing up and hosted marvelous Thanksgivings (at least that’s how they are remembered in my imagination) until her husband died when my mom was nine. Mom says that on her table, every Thanksgiving, was this jello dish. Around my childhood table it’s called “orange crap,” but it also now goes by the name “Julie’s Jello” whenever we bring the dish to a church potluck.

This year was my first Thanksgiving away from home. I went about my morning as usual, Skyping my brother as he prepared his first turkey in his first home. My sister-in-law decorated beautifully and apparently made more vegetables than was possible to eat. My mom brought the orange crap, out of tradition more than anything. After all, we agreed together, it’s not Thanksgiving without the orange crap. I went to language school and even learned the word for turkey (“pabo”). Later that night, I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on my sister’s television, thanks to Skype. It’s another tradition that is more personal than familial. It’s one I hope to pass down to my children, thanks to technology, no matter where we are in the world.

Tomorrow, on Saturday, my husband and I will join with team members for a Thanksgiving potluck celebration. The orange crap is chilling in the refrigerator, preparing to make the taxi ride. As a part of my now global family, I’ll let them in on the real name, a sheepish look on my face as I do so. It may not an enticing name, but it’s our tradition as much as the dish itself. And it’s one that I can carry on wherever I can find boxes of jello and carrots to shred.