Each year we toddle off to Northern Ireland for our annual holiday. Gary and I use this time to think, pray and discuss changes we might like to see in our family and home school. More often than not I go away with questions, worries and issues that I have determined to pray about, with the expectation of an answer.
Somehow, whether it is the getting away from normal life or because I have a considerable amount of time compared to when I am home schooling, I am never disappointed. One such question I was asking God this year was whether we should set our teens free to follow their dreams.
If you have been reading here, you will already know we give our children a very individualised education once they reach 11 or 12. We absolutely encourage them in their dreams and aspirations, but there are also requirements. We require Bible to be done daily, maths again daily, English, at least seven GCSEs…nothing mind blowing, just what society would expect from them.
The question on my mind this year was just how far should I give them their head? Having spent the last 14 years grounding them in love, in faith and in good books, was it now time to let them fly? Were these wings of theirs strong enough? And what if they fell? Or failed?
“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes” Ecclesiastes 1: 9
On the second Sunday we were in Northern Ireland we attended a church service at the local Vineyard Church. It was scary, being in a church we didn’t know with upwards of 800 people, most of whom we had never met before. We were blessed to have Danielle who sat with us and made sure we knew how to get the children registered for their group.
This is the church which is pastored by the husband of Kathryn Scott. He is an impassioned speaker and the sermon we were to listen to on that Sunday, the Sunday we ‘happened’ to be attending, was called ‘Dreams that Shape the City‘ (click to listen).
I was excited to hear what Alan had to say, and its application, not just in our homeschool, but in our own lives. At one point I was so overwhelmed by what he was sharing, I was shaking and felt sure I was about to pass out.
Back to the question in question (so to speak) – should I encourage wholeheartedly my son and my daughters to follow their dreams, whatever they may be and however adverse to society norms? The answer I received from God that morning was a resounding ‘Yes!’
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” Jeremiah 29:11
Alan’s assertion was that whatever the dream, God needs Christians in that area; that we shouldn’t be scared of the non-Christian-ness of it; that we shouldn’t just focus on traditionally ‘more Holy’ jobs. God needs barbers as much as He needs pastors; He needs actors and actresses who are willing to bring Christ to their profession; He needs painters and decorators, research scientists, cleaners and doctors. And He plants the seed of desire for such a job into each individual. Max Lucado calls it our sweet spot. That one thing which we feel so passionate about it is impossible to go through the day without thinking about it. It is the thing which melds together our own dreams and passions with God’s will for our life.
“Now glory be to God, by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20
God has something infinitely more special than our small dreams can ever imagine up; something that is Claire shaped, or Thomas shaped, or Charlotte shaped….well, you get the picture. This changed my thinking somewhat.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4
Last week my son came to me. He expressed that he was thinking of pursuing music instead of engineering. If I am honest, a few short weeks ago I would have encouraged him to think about just how reliable engineering is as a career. He would never be out of work. He would likely be paid well and would therefore be able to afford a house, a family and for his wife to stay at home to look after their children. I would have asked him to think deeply about the choices and pray.
Not now though. That is societal rhetoric, but does not need to be mine. Instead I googled music colleges and found one in the area. I encouraged him to pray, but apart from that I offered nothing but encouragement for him to follow his dreams. This Sunday he will be attending an open day at the college, to give him more information with which to make a decision. His decision. Completely. And Gary and I felt at Peace.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)
I have been creative my entire life. It is what kept me going when my childhood home life was so utterly difficult. My school, which was so very good for me in many ways, did not recognise the creativity or encourage it in me. Mine was a very academic school. Creativity was not a gift which was looked upon favourably.
It wasn’t until I left the workforce to become a stay at home wife and then a stay at home mum, that my creativity went into overdrive. I finally realised that the reason I didn’t see the world in quite the same way as most of my contemporaries was because I saw the potential in everything, rather than the reality. A teapot wasn’t just a teapot, it could be a vase, a plant holder, a pencil holder….A hallway didn’t need to be a hallway, instead it could become a bedroom and an office….Our garden, whilst far too small to be a small holding, nevertheless was planted with fruit trees galore and nut bushes, as I planned a world where we produced all our own food (a dream which never did come to fruition (see what I did there?!) on account of my fingers being anything but green). Nevertheless, I lived and live my life based on the potential of what I see rather than the actuality of what is there.
My life, I think, is very colourful and vibrant because of this. I am living my dream. I am living in that sweet spot and I am able to be fully me in almost every moment of my life. Do you know what a gift that is?
So this Christmas, whilst being our normal home-made one, will hold something else, something new. Our main gift to our children this year will be the gift of the freedom to use their lives in whichever way God directs them; to have the freedom to dream with the knowledge that they will also have the freedom to pursue those dreams to their fullest potential. They will be given the freedom to develop a vision bigger than they are, secure in the knowledge that God is in the business of making the impossible possible.
“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
Can you imagine if we all lived like this? Can you imagine just how exciting life would be? In the coming months and years, I will be sharing just how we are supporting these dreams, as well as allowing ourselves to contemplate our own.