Wrapped up in a blanket and sipping hot coffee on the porch, I peered out over Steamboat Springs from my Adirondack chair. It was an early Colorado morning, quiet and peaceful. I excitedly opened up to where I left off in my fantastic book. Immediately, I grabbed my iPhone and took a picture of the page. I love when you are reading a book and you feel like you and the author are having a conversation, nodding your heads to each other in a deep agreement. This is that page and below is what that particular page did for me:
“But what I’ve learned the hard way is you don’t answer to a wide swath of people and their opinions. You were made by hand with great love by the God of the Universe, and he planted deep inside of you a set of loves and dreams and idiosyncrasies, and you can ignore them as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling. Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough, they will go silent, and that’s the real tragedy. What’s changing everything for me is a new understanding that we get to decide how we want to live. We get to shape our days and weeks, and if we don’t, they’ll get shaped by the wide catch-all of “normal” and “typical,” and who wants that? You can live on a farm or out of a backpack. You can work from your kitchen or in a high-rise. You can worship in your living room or a cathedral. Isn’t that beautiful? And exciting? And full of freedom?” – Shauna Niequist
Erin and I have shared countless conversations about what we want our lives to look like. He has always been so good about asking, “Adge, what are you dreaming about lately?” After having our two kids and working years of night shifts, my brain and body are spent by the end of each day. My answer for the past six years has always been, “I don’t know.” Something made me believe that I was called to be a steady, sturdy flagpole for our family. I watched as Erin got to be the flag on top—moving, shifting with wind, chasing after his dreams, and pursuing his passions. He looked free up there as he flapped in the windy currents, sought after his heart, and established movement towards his dreams.
I felt myself growing jealous and, if I’m honest, slightly bitter because I was growing bored of being the steady one, the one whose future was known…my job would just look like this forever because this is what it’s looked like this for the past nine years, it’s what has been. While I enjoy what I do, I have noticed quiet moments where I'm wondering if the Lord has anything else? Is my heart fully alive? What makes me come fully alive? Erin travels so much for work and I’m the steady one at home holding down the fort. And yet, while all this is true, I realized something...Erin never once asked me to be the flagpole so he could be the flag. I chose that. It’s my default to be predictable, to be explainable, and to have people view me as responsible, dependable, and agreeable.
God didn’t call me to JUST be steady and sturdy. I shook hands with that agreement. This picture of the flag and flagpole is warped. In looking at my life like this, I agreed with a lie regarding the pursuit of dreams. The lie is this: Chasing after your dreams means you’re not grounded, steady, responsible, or dependable. You lack maturity and wisdom. After all, chasing dreams is what your teens and twenties are for. After that, it’s time to let those go and just commit to a career and if you’re lucky enough to like it, count your blessings. Your thirties is your season of buckling down and working hard—to do what you’re gonna do the rest of your life so you can save money for your kids’ college fund, live a comfortable life, and have provision for retirement.
Don’t get me wrong. I agree with working hard, being grateful for the job you’ve been provided with, and honoring the college education you persevered through to claim your career of choice. I agree with being thankful that God is providing money for you and your family to live well. I agree that sometimes you have to do what’s in front of you in order to get to where you want to be. What I don’t agree with now is believing that you just put your head down, turn off your heart, and push through the grind so that when you retire you can finally start dreaming again. No, just no! I’ve been invited to something more. You’ve been invited to something more.
We have an unfinished storage room that has scary borderline hoarder-esk clutter feel to it. It’s home to luggage, a mattress set, and loads of other randomness. Amongst Erin’s fly-fishing items and stacks of paperwork, our Apple desktop computer sits in a cozy corner. Last winter, I was staring at the screen, googling how to start a blog. I felt a stirring to start writing down what I was thinking about and to chronicle the days of our family. Something started happening in my heart. Excitement. I don’t know how to explain it, but I very much felt like God was digging up parts of me that had been buried by distractions or parts of me that have never been unearthed. I researched wordpress.com and came up with my domain name for my blog, “Cloud of Story.” I was thinking about how grateful I was for my story, the story of my family…the story that God has given to me, the story we continue to write together. I was grateful for the cloud of witnesses that have surrounded me every step of the way. Instantly, another dream popped up into heart. “Adge, I want you to start a women’s gathering.” I heard it clear as day and just started weeping. BOOM.
One of my greatest passions is connecting with women. I love hearing their stories and seeing freedom and empowerment come into their lives. During my last few months on Young Life staff in 2007, I truly felt like I was stepping into who I was meant to be and living out my identity. I started to speak to multiple audiences. Having men that I deeply admire invite me to speak at our regional meetings and leadership camps gave me such a sense of honor and such a sense of empowerment. It was so FUN! Pouring into other women on staff gave my heart such life. I was so passionate about those things. Then I felt like the Lord asked me to walk away from staff, for reasons He did not fully disclose.
I was obedient but I was so angry. I buried that dream of speaking and pouring into women. I stomped the dirt hard on top of it with a shovel and then rolled a boulder on top of it for extra measure, because it was too painful to believe I could live out that part of me another way, another time. It felt like God stripped me of those dreams without giving me direction, which left me feeling confused and hopeless. For these reasons, hearing His voice invite me to start a women’s gathering brought up so much emotion for me. The anger and pain I carried in this area were somehow gone; instead I felt like a little kid who just got told they are going to Disney World. The part of me whose voice felt muted for so many years was finding her volume turned up, and turned up loudly. God was making His heart for me visible by awakening my dreams.
And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.” -Numbers 12:6
For a few months, I didn’t know what the women’s gathering would even look like. I felt I was staring at a puddle that someone had dropped a stone in. The top of the water was blurry and full of activity and I kept waiting for the picture to settle and become clear so I could see exactly what He wanted me to do. That picture never came. But what did come was a nudging to just go for it…put a date on the calendar and start inviting. The rest will come in time. So, that’s what I did. I put a date on the calendar and prayed for who to invite. The desire of my heart was for women to simply encounter Jesus. To be able to clearly hear His voice. To see how much He loves them. To know that He knows exactly who they are and He wants them to know that He is real, closer than they think. To know they are not forgotten and their story matters. To know that their voice in this big, busy world is worthy of being heard. To know that they have a place to talk it out with God, to hurt, and to even say cuss words when life takes them to trenches and they can’t breathe. I wanted Heaven to fill the room so that these women would feel unexplainable hope and an inexpressible love when they He encountered them there.
When I invite women, I call it a women’s gathering. In my heart and in my prayers, I call it the same title I made for my blog, “Cloud of Story,” because that’s exactly what He has invited me to live out in this glorious community of women that I have the honor to know. You see, I am surrounded by incredible women, each one with an incredible story to tell. God inviting me to dream with Him has wrecked me. I will not and cannot go back to being who I was…a woman without dreams. She was but a shadow, a shell, of who He had intended for her to be!
When the gals gathered in May, I invited the women to make a dream list. I pasted grey cardstock onto whimsy papers and put fifteen marks vertically on the left side of the paper. I invited them to come up with a list of fifteen things they were dreaming about in their current season. It didn’t have to be a grand life-altering list, just a list as they sat quietly, listening to their hearts, and listening to that thoughtful, sweet inviting voice of God that beckons each one of them to dream. My list of fifteen ranges from taking my 5-year-old son Finnley to the Hobbiton site in New Zealand, where they filmed the Lord of the Rings, to getting a tattoo someday. What would be on your List of Fifteen? Start working on it today. God is inviting you to dream today, He's not wanting you to wait and ignore that part of you. No, don’t bury that part of you. Take your place on the stage He has made you to be on and dream. I think you’ll find His heart for you becoming more visible as you do.
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!