Maybe you know where I'm going with this whole "I have a dream" thing... but I'll tell you more anyway because there's more to tell.
It started with that question. And it sounds so cliche, but whatever. I like cliche. (On my blog, not in my books...)
If we could do anything, what would it be?
I mentioned before, this wasn't the first time this whole idea came up. We talked about it off and on for fifteen ever-lovin' years. Fifteen. That's a lotta years.
But we didn't know anything fifteen years ago, even though we thought we did.
We didn't even really know who we were yet. We hadn't figured out how to be married, how to be parents, what we wanted from this life. We were babies.
And in many ways, we still know nothing.
And, because of our best/worst situation, we really had no excuse not to go for it. I mean...it's like God was asking us, "Well, what are you waiting for?"
So we were bold enough to say it aloud. I still have notebooks full of ideas and lists and dreams...I will keep them forever.
At the heart of it all? Creativity. We dreamed of a place where creativity is encouraged, where there is learning and growing and inspiration and FUN.
We wanted to create a performing arts center, a place where all of our creative interests could align. And we wanted to do it right here in Rockford. Say what you want about my hometown, I love it here. I'm convinced that you can love anywhere you live if you have the right attitude, and for us, the big realization was that our people are here.
So here is where we wanted to be.
We're called to this city...now, we wanted to figure out how to make a dent. How could we leave a mark?
If you know us, you might not find it difficult to imagine that we have a bit of a problem thinking small, but I am convinced that any dream worth pursuing is worth starting right. And for us, that meant starting small. Humble. It was like walking a tightrope while balancing so many voices in our heads.
The constant barrage of questions assaulted my mind every single night.
I won't lie to you (why start now?). I. Was. Terrified.
I mean, truly, horribly, panic-attacking terrified. I nearly shut down in fear more than once. Because after we said the words...we had to do the work. And I was plagued with the constant question: What if no one comes? To my art workshops. To voice lessons. To learn piano. To summer camp. To audition for our show.
Let me tell you this (and this is the important part). Pursuing a dream is all well and good. And I love the dream big, you can do it attitude. But dreaming big--really dreaming--not just saying you're going to dream but actually putting feet to it...that's some seriously hard stuff right there. It's the scariest thing I've ever done.
It looked like nothing we've ever done. There was no paycheck. No security. It wasn't someone else's money on the line. It was ours. It wasn't someone else's family who might not get paid that week. It was ours.
All the risk was ours.
And that meant, so was the reward.
But that was a ways off...first, we had to take a step. It started small. We figured we'd just throw it out there and see. We prayed for open doors AND for closed doors. We prayed for direction. Confirmation.
We wanted 25 students by the end of last year. God doubled that number.
We were floored.
Sometimes it seems like when you ask God to take control everything just gets better than you can imagine. I certainly didn't want to try and do it on our own.
There was still the occasional opened wound. We felt for a long time after we announced our plans that we were coming under fire from the people who'd decided to discard us in the first place. We were okay with that. God showed us they had no bearing on our future.
Old wineskins and all that jazz.
So we moved forward, and with every inch, He was there. Still leading us. Guiding us. Protecting us.
It's never, ever easy to go after a dream. It's easy to talk about it. Easy to think about it. Easy to fill journals full of ideas. But getting up and doing...that's where the good stuff is...
And around here, just a couple of months after our Best/Worst day, we were about to discover that for ourselves...