Just keep dreaming

I have always been a dreamer. Daydreamer, night dreamer, fantasizer, visionary… call it what you want, but I am always dreaming up something that could still happen. Something bigger than what’s in front of me. Somewhere else I could still explore. Someone else I could still meet. Something else I could still experience. 

When I was in college, I dreamed all sorts of dreams. And there’s something about those years that feel so invincible, you’re just certain that all of it is going to happen. I was going to spend my early post-college years traveling. I wanted to see parts of Europe I’d never seen. I wanted to go to New Zealand on my own Bilbo Baggins-esque adventure. I wanted to go to South America and hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

I didn’t care if anyone joined me — I was going to explore places I’d never been. I wanted to get lost in uncharted territory. I wanted to meet strangers and hear the sounds, smell the smells, and taste the tastes of cultures unknown to me.

I’d eventually move back to Nashville and chase a dream of starting a publication I’d been dreaming about for years, live with friends and work whatever part-time job I had to work to keep writing and see this one particular dream come true. I would one day write a best seller or two, and continue to travel, speaking to thousands.

Then something happens as you get older. Life happens, I suppose. I fell in love with my best friend and I put on a white dress on a really hot day in June, gathered all the people I love the most and threw a huge party in a field as we said “I do.” And then we began a whole different adventure together.

He’s a dreamer, too, and his dreams were taking him to Texas and eventually somewhere else to plant a church, and so I jumped on board and here we are two years later, dreaming of our future together. We’re dreaming of revival in Utah, we’re dreaming of raising a family of little church planters, we’re dreaming of the adventures we want to go on together one day.

I’m learning in these years of my life that God is really into interrupting my plans. But here’s the thing about those interruptions: we tend to believe a lie that He wants to come in and take our big dreams and drag us back down to reality, forcing on us a more “realistic” future. I tend to think that surely God, the creator of fun, can’t actually have a more fun, more outrageous, more wild and exciting adventure for me than the one I’d planned for myself?

But you know what this season of my life is teaching me? His way is so much better. His reality is so much bigger than my reality, so “dragging me down to reality” isn’t what He’s doing. He’s pulling me up to a better one. The one He made for me. The one I could never even scratch the surface of if I didn’t live a life yielded to His will.

In the fall of my junior year of college, one of my roommates’ friends had just gotten back from the World Race. He’d spent a year traveling, sharing the gospel and loving on people all over the world. He was kind of being a nomad for a few weeks, visiting old friends, and he crashed on our couch for a week or so.

Noland and I were dating at the time, and we were in that “I never want to be away from you” stage, so I was hardly home, and I didn’t really get to know this guy much while he was staying at our house. But when he left a week or two later, he left me a letter. It was just a little something he’d felt like God was highlighting about me when he was praying one morning, and he wanted to share it with me.

Three and a half years later, I still have that letter, and I found it in a box just yesterday when I was looking for something else. I stood jaw-dropped and misty eyed in my living room as I read through it, realizing how true these words from God were for the years of my life that would follow my receiving this letter.

He said he pictured a waterfall as he prayed for me, falling right in the middle of an open plain, a place where a waterfall has no business being but it’s there anyway. He said he felt like God was speaking to the fact that my voice is going to come with power to bring change and new life to the most unlikely places.

He said he pictured me standing there next to it, wearing combat boots. I laughed at this because my favorite pair of boots are the combat boots Noland got me for Christmas last year. He said the boots reminded him of the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6. “And as shoes for your feet, put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”

He said he kept hearing the phrase, “Share the message. Share my love.” And as I read these words again yesterday tears streamed down my face, because there was that sweet, thoughtful God of mine, still speaking into the deepest dreams on my heart of the stories I want to tell one day.

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And in the last few years, God has been putting all the puzzle pieces together, slowly laying the cobblestone path of life that Noland and I stroll down together, enjoying His presence and enjoying each other, and letting Him show us the way. 

I never could have known how it all would have played out from then until now. That God would invite us to plant the waterfall of life that is His Church right in the middle of a desert valley, Salt Lake City, Utah. That He would even be so silly and thoughtful as to get me a pair of combat boots that I love, a reminder every time I put them on that He has planted my feet firmly in the gospel of peace, ready for whatever is next, armed with all that He’s been building in me in these years of walking with Him.

He’s been teaching me this year about how to dream with Him. He’s put dreams on my heart that weren’t there before, and He’s invited me in to fight for them alongside Him. And yesterday, revisiting this letter from college, He reminded me that it’s worth it. That the promises He speaks forth are true, and that His way is perfect, and that it won’t look the way I thought it would, but it will be so much better. So much more complete. So much more whole.

It will still be an adventure. I’ll still see places I’ve never seen and go places I’ve never gone. I’ll do it here in my physical being, and I’ll do it in the spirit, too. That’s the thing about walking with God. We enter a whole other dimension of reality, and our adventures are multiplied.

And you know, I still believe in all those same dreams I mentioned earlier. I believe in the promise of what God wants to do with me as a storyteller. I believe in the dream of the publication I’ve wanted to start for years. I believe He holds those dreams in His hands and He knows exactly how, when, and where they’ll come to fruition. He knows. He’s God. All I have to do is keep saying yes.

Thank you, God, that your ways are higher than my ways and your thoughts higher than my thoughts. Thank you that your word goes out from your mouth like rain that covers the earth, not returning void but watering what you’ve planted and bringing forth life, and that it will accomplish all of that which you’ve purposed. [Isaiah 55:8-11]

Thank you that your way is perfect and your word is true. Thank you that you equip me with strength, and set my feet secure on the heights with you. Thank you that you train my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. That your word proves true and it’s a shield for all those who take refuge in you. [Psalm 18:30-34]

Let me be a dreamer of your dreams. A heart yielded to your will. A life given to whatever you lay before me. It’s just worth it.

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The time I thought Southwest Airlines was pranking me

I used to love playing pranks on people. One time on April Fools Day when we were kids, my younger sister and I put cream cheese in my mom’s deodorant and she didn’t notice for like three days. It was spectacular. Two years ago, though, I thought an airline was playing a joke on me, and I quickly learned that what was going on was serious, and I could potentially be spending my last moments on earth running through the airport to get away from an explosion.

On April 1, 2012, I was flying back to Arkansas from being in Houston for a bridal shower. Noland and I were engaged, I was in full-fledged wedding planning mode, and it was nearing the end of my last semester of college, so I was also trying to graduate. It was a little chaotic, to say the least.

So my Dad and I go grab lunch at our favorite five-star culinary establishment, Whataburger, and he takes me to the airport. Every time my dad drops me off at the airport he always does two things: he kisses me on the head, and tells me he’s proud of me. And every time I walk away holding back tears, because there’s something that hits really deep when your dad tells you he’s proud of you, and this time was worse because I was in a really emotional/nostalgic season of my life.

Anyone who has flown Southwest Airlines knows that if you’re going to or from somewhere in Texas, you do the Texas two-step and take some really ridiculous route where you either have to go through Dallas or Austin to go wherever you’re going next. So I was going to Little Rock, but I had to change planes in Dallas. I get to Dallas, no big deal, have a quick 30-45 minute layover and I board my next plane for Little Rock.

As soon as I get to my seat, a flight attendant comes over the speakers and says, “I’m so sorry everyone, but TSA just called, and we’re going to have to de-plane. Please take all of your belongings with you, and get off the plane as quickly as possible.” 

The other thing anyone who has flown Southwest Airlines knows is that flight attendants double as stand up-comedians, which, next to bags flying free, is the best part of the whole experience. So my first thought is, “OK, funny Southwest — April fools. I’m not moving.”

Well then they turn the plane completely off. Have you ever been on a plane when that happens? It was eerie. At that point I knew whatever was going on was serious, and I could hear my heart beating through the unusual silence on the plane. In my already emotional, nostalgic, I just left home and I miss my family already state, I immediately started melting down a little bit.

I grabbed my backpack and followed my fellow travelers back into the terminal, and it was like a movie scene. TSA was herding people like sheep out of the terminal. Mothers were yelling for their children. People were scrambling and the TSA officers were yelling, “Move! Faster! Everybody out!”

My first thought was, “Oh my gosh. There’s a bomb in here.”

And then I thought, “Any moment Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are going to bust in and they’ll tell us we’re all extras on Speed 3.” (I learned in that moment that comedy was obviously a defense mechanism of mine when facing possible death.)

So I just start speed walk/jogging, weaving through people and praying under my breath, “Please, God, don’t let this be real.” I was on the verge of tears, by myself, confused and slightly terrified. I was picking up my phone to call my mom (Noland wasn’t my natural go-to yet, we were only engaged!), when I turned and saw a familiar face.

Standing there were a couple of friends of mine from Nashville, who were on the road playing music, flying from the Northeast leg of their tour to finish up in Texas. Ironically, I had just talked to this friend the previous day, and we both agreed we missed each other and we wish we’d known when we would see each other again. They pushed through the crowd to get to where I was, and instantly I was comforted and calmed — mostly by the nonchalant nature of my friend Drew, who was only mad that he was going to spend his first day off in 22 days stuck in the airport.

We snagged a table at Chili’s and he bought me a drink. We spent an hour or so catching up, and my mom, who I’d obviously freaked out by my previous panicked phone call, was very comforted to know I’d found some friends and everything was fine.

About an hour later, TSA made an announcement that everything was clear and we could head back to our gates to re-board. I hugged my friends goodbye and we went our separate ways. I got to my gate and they were just yelling out names from boarding passes that had been taken when we boarded the first time, handing them back to passengers. I thought this was a little bit alarming, considering we’d just dealt with a bomb threat, but I guess they were confident that the suspicious baggage’s owner was not on flight 2944 to Little Rock. I could have been anyone, but they trusted that I was Sara Krimm and gave me back my boarding pass.

I sat back down in my seat, and I was thankful that they were handing out complimentary drinks for the inconvenience, because well, my nerves were still a little high, and Joe Somebody sitting next to me could have been the potential criminal!

During my 50 minute flight from Dallas to Little Rock, I thought about how crazy everything that had just happened was, and I thought about how it’s so like God to take a massively chaotic, scary, potential disaster of a situation, and give us a really sweet gift in the middle of it. 

Maybe it was coincidental. But I like to think that God heard me tell my friend Ellie the previous day that I missed her, and He thought, smiling at His uncanny kindness, “They’re crossing paths in Dallas tomorrow and they don’t even know it.” And so He planted that little suspicious suitcase right there in the middle of Terminal B just so we could spend an hour together.

This is what He is in the business of doing. Taking our chaos, our fears, our disastrous moments and making a way through it. And that one hour at a table with my friends was like the still waters He promises He will lead us by, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Tales from the valley I’m still climbing out of.

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[August 2013]
Standing on the highest skiable peak in the United States, in the middle of the Wasatch Mountains, overlooking a city I knew He was calling me to, I heard His voice. 

He had set my feet secure on the heights, and there He told me what this next season of my life would look like.  

We’re going on a journey. From here, you can see everything: The road that winds down into the valley, every curve and dip it makes, in the dark places and the places where light breaks through. We’ll soon begin our descent, though, and you’ll see only what’s right in front of you, until we reach the heights again.  

I have much to teach you on this road, if you will just follow me — you, my sheep, and I, your Good Shepherd. Though we will trek through the wilderness, in the valley of the shadow of death, you need fear nothing, for I am with you, and every step of the way is a part of my divine purpose for you. 

Fear not, little flock. It is my great pleasure to give you the kingdom. Will you come with me? 

I stood on that mountain, and I had a decision to make. He had clearly given an invitation. It’s never a forced thing with Him… we are so free as to choose whether or not to say yes.  

So there I was, with an Esther sort of challenge on the table: He will do what He will do no matter what, but He has invited me along for the ride … and who knows if I’ve been called to His kingdom for such a time as this?

The answer was clear. Undeniable. Non-negotiable. I had to follow Him. My destiny is and always will be in His hands. Knowing that the refining fire was somewhere down in that valley we were headed towards, I set out on a new journey with Him, because I knew He had promised that it would be worth it. 

So the descent begins, and it was just as the beginning of any downhill journey is — pretty enjoyable. Not too hard. Excitement still fresh, adventure still new, sun still beaming right down on my shoulders. I still had clear vision of where we were headed. 

[October]
A little ways down into this pilgrimage, the sun set behind the mountains for the first time. The path was getting dimmer, and the road was getting colder. For the first time I began to doubt. Giving into that same sinful lie that Eve believed so long ago, “Did God really say that?” Maybe I had heard Him wrong. Maybe I was alone. 

Isolation is one of our enemy’s favorite tricks. He draws us into the dark to steal, kill and destroy. But in swept that old rod and staff, my comfort, to pull me back to His side. Ah, yes. He is here. I am safe. Though it engulf me, the dark cannot win me. 

So the downhill journey continued. Getting a little darker and a little harder every day. And this is the place where I no longer doubted that God had spoken, but instead I just began to cry out to Him, “Why have you drawn me here? When will we reach the places you promised? Why does this feel so dark and lonely? Don’t you know that I’m tired?”

[December]
I knew for sure I’d reached the lowest point of this treacherous excursion. The mountains towered over me on every side, and they almost seemed to laugh at me, taunting me in all of my smallness. And there, trekking through the woods, I heard the sound of running water. I followed it as it got louder and louder, and finally, there it was. A stream. 

The thing about streams that run through valleys is that they usually cut right through the very lowest point. It’s there that we will find life if we dare go so far into the depths to seek Him. 

And how thoughtful of Him to refresh us in the deepest places of uncertainty and pain, before the uphill battle begins. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad to linger in the valley for a while. He’s here.

I knelt down for my last drink of water, and there in the stream, there was a group of tadpoles. I watched them swim around, and all of a sudden they were growing right before my eyes, until a family of full-grown frogs followed one another right out of the stream and off towards the upward road I was about to set out on. 

New life is coming. Keep going. I’ve drawn you here for a reason. Now follow this promise right up that next path.

[January]
Fresh vision is a good thing. I felt refreshed and envisioned again for where I was headed. I was ready to start climbing. 

And now it’s mid February, and even though I’m nowhere near the next mountain top, I can feel the road getting smoother and the ground beneath my feet leveling. Because as I look back on the journey thus far, I cannot deny that He’s been present and faithful.

I could sit on mountaintops all the days of my life, but where would the treasure be found if we weren’t to go out seeking it? I am learning over and over again in this season that I love traveling long, winding roads with Him.

He takes me on adventures, and he shows me the entire land we’re to travel, first from afar, and then up close as we trek through the valleys and wilderness, finding every bit of gold along the way.

When I journey with Him, there are streams in the desert. Deep wells quenching my thirst in the driest of lands, for He is with me, and He is the well. Banquet tables prepared to feed me, even in the presence of my fiercest enemies.

In the rocky places He creates level ground for my feet to walk on. In the sun scorched lands He is a shaded place. In the winter’s cold He is a warm fire to sit near. Always what I need, and ever leading me into the places He promised.

We aren’t there yet, of that I’m certain. There will always be a deeper longing unfulfilled on this side of Heaven — of that, I’m also certain. 

So I keep clinging to Him, I keep walking along the path He highlights, and I find the hidden treasure in every stop along the way. Like a scavenger hunt where the grand prize is a greater measure of His presence. This is His intention for the adventures He takes us on. 

Perhaps there are no true destinations, only resting places before the next adventure begins. 

Count me in, Abba.