We’re standing in front of the computer screen when H turns to me and asks if I still feel good about the decision we just made to buy the couch. I tell him I have a knot in my stomach and that while he was talking to the salesman about protective sprays, I was trying to self-diagnose my feelings.
Not the answer he hoped to hear.
We’ve had “if we win the lottery conversations” about re-modeling our hodge-podge family room for years. Now that we’re finally moving forward, I realize that I can’t change my mind like returning a pair of shoes that don’t fit right. The weight of it sobers me.
I’m thinking about how the money we’re spending on a couch will feed some friends in Rwanda for months. How this seemingly small decision will lead to more seemingly small decisions, about paint color and window treatments and more thoughts about how we could be helping people that sit on cardboard boxes and use magazine pages for toilet paper. My stomach hurts.
The couch decision, it’s a small portal into a new season of God asking me to dream big and trust Him for the outcome. To stand on the high dive and jump off when I can’t see to the bottom of the pool. I like to know what I’m getting myself into before I take the leap. Can anyone relate?
But this isn’t just about a couch or new paint color, it’s about wandering through a wintering of the soul long enough that you can’t imagine what spring feels like anymore. It’s like snow falling in the middle of summer and Jesus sitting on the edge coaxing me to dive in.
My dreams lay stretched out asleep on the diving board of circumstance. Fingers let go of clenched hope somewhere in the midst of waiting for everyone else to dive off first. Hope about friendships and community, ministry and belonging.
Standing up and bouncing on the end of the board, buying a couch, calling a friend, walking into a new church when you wish you didn’t have to, it all starts with commitment. A commitment to risk and feel and fail and succeed.
And sometimes all He’s looking for is commitment. He doesn’t need my preparedness to deliver a dream.
A friend calls to say that she knows someone who can use my old couch. When she comes with a family to pick it up, they step over boxes and bags waiting at the door. I open one of them to reveal the load of crayons, markers and pencils inside. Their faces light up like a candelabra flaming on an opera stage.
She tells me about how they were just talking in the car about all the kids that still need school supplies. How they intend to sew backpacks for some that use plastic bags to hold their books.
I walk over to the pile, hold up another bag to show them it’s full of fabric scraps. We high-five each other in the surprise of it all and load everything in the back of their truck.
Because sometimes when you take a leap into the deep end of your dreams, the water splashes on to the ones standing at the edge with Jesus.
- My son’s impromptu comedic monologues that make me laugh – every day.
- Picking out paint colors, easier than expected.
- Cards and e-messages from friends holding me up in prayer over the loss of my brother last week.
- The way God answered every question I pondered on the way to church in the sermon from Ezekiel, to remind me He hasn’t forgotten.
- A phone call from a friend, like no time passed in between.
- No class changes or surprises on the first week back to school (except for the forgotten lunch on the counter.)
Also linking with Playdates With God, Hear it, Use it, Miscellany Monday, Into the Beautiful and Soli Deo Gloria, Faith Barista Jam.
I can totally relate. Again, connected thoughts.Thinking of you as of late. Thanks for those prayers.
Thanks for thinking of me Celeste. The miles may separate us but our hearts link in Him. So thankful for you.
I was reading an old journal entry of mine, from a couple of years ago, and in it the Father was reminding me how He is already here, already present with me. He has already come. I just need to look up. And I love how you do that Shelly. You look up, willingly into His face, willing to partner with Him, trust His leading — and then you share the blessing of it all, here, with us. Thank you.
What a beautiful picture you just painted with your words Jennifer. Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart, I’m so humbled.
Just love this very real writing. praying for you in your loss too.
Thank you Sharon.
“A commitment to risk and feel and fail and succeed.” I just was telling my husband…I feel like in so many areas we are in a holding pattern…circling…just waiting to land…this made me think…I just have to jump when He says jump…but stay restful in the waiting. happy monday to you~
Hope you had a good Monday Ro. I think you and I seem to be walking parallel journeys. Glad I’m in good company.
When we got married, everything was hopelessly hodge-podge–like the two white-porcelain-and-red-naugahyde barber chairs anchoring one side of the living room….juxtaposed with the two early-GoodWill couches setting back-to-back in front of the fireplace: one flaming-red-and-neon-green paisley (!!) and one, a washed-out-instituational gray with a surface that scratched you raw whenever you sat on it (I never wore shorts!) So once we were finally able to afford a *real* couch and wingback chair with ottoman, it was a monumental decision (boy do I relate to you!), because I knew they would have to last a lifetime. And while I was eager to get rid of the old stuff, my newlywed castoffs became newlywed treasures to a young couple, grateful for furniture on which to sit. Over time, I have realized that what’s important isn’t the furniture or accoutrements with which we feather our nest, but the warmth that that nest holds. Dreams hold a lot of warmth, too. They’re God’s gifts to feather our hearts against the cold blasts of doubt, disappointment, discouragement, and despair. Keep dreaming, Shelly, and may the Lord line your heart with feathers of hope and cause all of *His* dreams for you to come true!! (Again, I’m very sleepy, so I hope that this makes sense)! Love, Lynn
Love this Lynn: They’re God’s gifts to feather our hearts against the cold blasts of doubt, disappointment, discouragement, and despair. I’m holding onto those words, thank you.
OH and I surely hold on to *your* words. Bless you, Shelly!
We had that exact same style, Lynn! We called it Early American Yard Sale, because that’s where all of ours came from.
“He doesn’t need my preparedness to deliver a dream.” Such a great reminder, Shelly! Thank you.
It was for me too. 🙂
I love stories like this. God just continues to prove faithful, doesn’t he?
And I’m impressed that you found picking out paint colors easy. I agonized over them for weeks. Probably the hardest part of building a house for me.
Yes, He does. I think we thought about the colors we wanted in the room so long that we really knew what we wanted and recognized it immediately when we held up paint chips.
It is amazing that whether it is years, miles, or opinions that sometimes separate people that your thoughts resonate, No matter what! It is what I felt as we made decision after decision on the OK house. It all seems so permanent. And, my husband, like yours would turn to me with the same question, “are you still comfortable with your decision”?………are you kidding? It seems the norm these days to re-think everything. But helping someone in need in the midst of it all seems to make the most sense! Curious now about your choices!
I’ll send you photos. Good to talk on the phone today about all the fun.
You’ve done all that God could ask of you … to be sensitive to his promptings, Shelly. And he blessed you with a peek into his glorious way of providing for all. What a great post! And for what it’s worth … I really like your new couch! 😉
Beth, that isn’t actually the couch I picked. It’s just a photo of a couch in the lobby of a hotel in Houston. Mine will arrive tomorrow, can’t wait. My aunt thought the same thing you did. Sometimes you just never know with my photos! 🙂
Isn’t this true? He doesn’t need my preparedness. Oh, how I needed that today, Shelly. Dreaming with you. Praying for the high dive.
Glad to have you with me in this Laura. Are you going to the Writers Retreat at Laity? I would love to have a conversation with you in real life.
I relate to this so much… the sick stomach over buying myself something so expensive, the feeling about how many others elsewhere are so less fortunate etc. Especially as a single, friends can sometimes seem to look at me like “how can you be spending that” – when I’ve actually never bought anything like that unless I had bonus money or something. Which means I’ve always bought only a piece here, a few years later, a piece there… And in relation to what I was making, it seemed extravagant. But God puts a love in us for beauty and as long as it isn’t where our heart is centered, I really see these things as gifts from His heart now. Even in my current situation, I am always thanking him for the beauty and peace of the home He’s given etc.
I remember buying a beautiful wood hutch that I love several years ago, and how it was on sale, a beauty I never expected to find or be able to afford etc. And how I worried over it, made myself sick over spending “so much” – and God finally spoke into me that that was a spirit of poverty mindset. That He wants to bless us too…especially as we give to others in other ways. He knows your heart for Rwanda etc, and this is something lovely, fresh, new that He wants to delight you with, Shelly. That doesn’t take away from helping others or reaching out as He leads. Kind of like the way my grandparents used to say, eat all on your plate – remember the starving (whoevers). But if I ate it, or didn’t, it wouldn’t change that. I’m sure your home is open and a place for others to know His peace… and His artistic eye of beauty is all around us, in your heart of photo etc. A blessing to choose beautiful heart-stirring colors that lift you… Colors affect me so much, another gift. 🙂 Oh well… going on and on…
I couldn’t agree with you more, Pam. Your comment is full of ‘balance’ in how we see our needs vs. our wants. It’s taken me a long time to realize that having some ‘wants’ along the way is o.k. too. (My husband and I bought our very first, brand-new livingroom suite in 30 years of marriage, just 5 years ago. Kids grown and gone, so we did it. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel guilty. I felt good about it.) As long as we heed the voice of God when He instructs us to give, and keep our hearts and eyes open to the needs around us. And to be mindful that what we have can perhaps go on to help someone else, as Shelly discovered, blesses the heart of all.
I agree with you both, love the conversation here like we’re sitting in my living room. And Pam what you said about His artisitc eye for beauty all around us . . .love that. I’ve been thinking about it all day actually.
Shelly, thank you for letting us in on your dreams and your daily life as well. You are not alone….trust me.
LOVE to read your words.
Jody, you’re such an encouragement, thank you friend.
Beautiful Shelly, this amazes me. How we are in the same stream of consciousness. So often. Today, the Lord led me to a piece I’d written awhile back called The Deep End. And so, just now, just a few minutes ago I reread it, thinking what slant to focus upon, and then I come over here and read your superb and sweet spin on the subject. A word from Jesus to you: You are altogether lovely.
Oh, I just love the way God does that, like He’s standing in the room in full view. So thankful. That is one of those awesome God Bump stories. Have you been over to Jennifer Lee’s place for the Wednesday link-ups?
Thanks for that word btw, I’m overwhelmed, really.
“He doesn’t need my preparedness to deliver a dream.”….I’m taking this with me. Thank you.
What a beautiful post!
Praying I splash big…
and I’m all giddy you made their whole month!!
(and look at the watermark! yay!)
Oh, you do splash big Nikki. We’re all saturated by your genuine heart and love for all of us.
It appears you’ve struck a chord with all of us. The words, sometimes when you take a leap into the deep end of your dreams, the water splashes on to the ones standing at the edge with Jesus,” are being tucked away for me to remember each time we have to stop and think about a small or big decision or change. I think these express so thoroughly just how it is! Thanks for sharing such wise and wonderful thoughts.
You know, I have a tendency to think that my dreams are all about me and really, nothing is every just about me. Because He is so generous and loving and inclusive. I’m embarrassed to admit that thinking my dreams will actually impact someone else in this way was an aha moment. Thankful that He’s patient with me. 🙂
I love how God works out all the details! The way He blessed you and another family in need. I often wonder how many of these blessings I miss when I’m not looking. Hope you enjoy your couch!
I think that the blessings are even better when they blind side us. And we are enjoying our couch tonight. It’s been a fun project.
He works us in such mysterious ways sometimes. Who knew you would be able to bless someone else so deeply with stuff you were letting go?
I’ve always thought about what I do as sending out ripples of hope and help, from God, using me, to others. I love the additional analogy of folks at the edge with Jesus being splashed with the refreshing goodness as well!
It really is true that it is more of a blessing to give than receive.
Splash out! I’m thinking of the rest you’ll receive from your couch and new beautiful surroundings that will strengthen you to pour out more.
Oh, I like the way you think Sandra.
Needed this today, Shelly. Facing real risks here.
Holding on to the fact that He’s holding on to me.
Thanks for your story, it really hits home.
Kelli, I said a prayer for you today. If there is anything you want to share specifically I am here to intercede.