Once upon a time, I was a very self-assured little girl. I had tons of confidence and felt that I could be and do anything I wanted, as that was what I had always been told. I worked hard and did well in school, and was self-motivated and goal-oriented. I knew by the third grade that I wanted to be a marine biologist. Never mind that I have never been a good swimmer and am just a little afraid of the water. Nothing would stop me! I graduated second in my class and went off to my dream school, William and Mary. By this time, I had had a couple of inspiring science teachers and had slightly altered my plans to be a medical researcher. I started out on the pre-med track and discovered my first true academic competition. I struggled some in my biology and chemistry classes, earning Bs and Cs instead of the As I was accustomed to, but I never questioned my direction. Even a talk with my research professor, who gently warned me that grad school for biology was extremely competitive and I would not get in with my 3.2 GPA did not deter me. I continued through taking my GREs, but never even looked at my scores as finally the revelation hit me--I hated research. I had signed on as a lab assistant and spent the summer going in to the lab at all hours of the day and night to monitor microscopic roundworms. Microscopic roundworms!! Somewhere in there, I hit bottom. This was not how I wanted to spend my life. I lost all motivation to compete with my peers, who were all too happy to pick up the tasks that I was dismally failing at anyway. I graduated, moved to Richmond with friends, and took on several part-time jobs to pay the bills. It was a low point for me as I finally began to understand that my dreams were not going to come true.
Now, years later, I'm glad that I went through this trying time and learned many powerful lessons. It was during those dark days that I heard God calling me to ministry, and the joy and passion I've felt for this calling has sustained me for over eleven years now. I loved seminary, the classes, the community, the friends, and feeling like I was living out of a greater purpose. I also met and married the love of my life there. It's been a beautiful journey.
I've been honored to minister at HopeTree Family Services, a residential group home for at-risk youth and developmentally disabled adults for the past seven and a half years and have loved learning and growing along with the residents, sharing my love and creativity. And yet, on and off I've felt a stirring, a longing to find something more.
Perhaps this longing is my own personal need to reconnect with God in new ways, or maybe I need to find better ways to use my gifts here in my current setting. But perhaps that still small voice is leading me to something new. In many ways this terrifies me. I want stability. I am comfortable here...and maybe that's the problem. I resist exploring other options even though I feel that I'm not always living out my calling.
I have lots of dreams. I've thought about counseling as I love the pastoral counseling part of my job. But that would mean more schooling, or training and certification. My lovely husband is getting ready to work towards licensure, and we used to think about working and ministering together, maybe incorporating art therapy. Maybe he'll hire me someday! :)
I've also thought of starting some sort of coffeehouse that would be a cozy meeting spot for parents and their children to play and explore. Something like this:
or maybe one that involves a space to create like this:
I've even though of a name--CrEATe and Play Cafe. I love the idea of using my creativity to spark the creativity in others, and particularly with families working and learning together. This is another of my favorites: http://www.playfulearning.com/Playful_Learning/Blog/Blog.html
I love the work my friend Suzanne is doing in her art studio and in the ministry she does leading workshops and bereavement groups: http://web.me.com/slsvinson/silvertreeart.net/home.html
I also dream of writing (more than a blog). Maybe a devo book as I've been writing for work for some time. My husband and I have written a children's book, too, but after our first rejection letter I've become a little discouraged about sending it off again. Maybe this new magazine will give me a chance to gain some writing experience: http://www.karismag.com/
Then, there's also my photography dream, which I've been slowly pursuing by taking some classes. I'm inspired by http://shuttersisters.com/ and http://shuttersisters.com/picturehope/
So the dreams are there, but here I am. I don't feel as stuck as I once did. I don't know if it's laziness, or if this is a time of waiting. I don't want to risk missing out on at least one of my dreams, but I'm in that land of trying to see which is best and how to make it happen. I've learned that there's no "ONE PERFECT" path for me anymore, but now I need to learn how to take that leap of faith into the new....