I’ve come up with this new term that I’m calling “dream linking”. You start with one dream, not sure of where it will lead, and eventually it links to another dream. But the only way to experience dream linking is to start with the first initial dream–no matter how big or small. So here it goes! (this is a long one but worth it! :))
Many of you have watched our dream linking unfold over the last ten years from shooting family portraits to photographing million dollar weddings around the country to homeschooling to speaking to publishing books and then entering the world of TV and most recently a nationwide team of beautiful CONFIDENCE Teachers, my Disney show, Babble and Target! It’s insane when I think about how photography was a new found hobby only ten years ago. The last ten years of dream building was never on my radar when I was in my twenties! Even when I did TV interviews for my first book, Beauty Restored, I never once thought of doing more with TV. But that is the magic of dream linking! You can’t dream up everything at once because the dream you are working on right now, the one in front of you, has so much to teach you, equip you and prepare you for so that you can have even stronger faith to digest, embrace, and go for the next dream!
Brian and I are always taking that special time to listen together, continuously asking God what the next step is for our family. Some of you have heard me speak on the topic of living in the unknown, being willing to create in the dark. Just speaking on the topic holds me to a certain accountability to make sure we are always being intentional about living it and not just talking about it. But this newest link in our dreams is one that rocks my boat!
It started two and a half years ago with a dream to be fully out of debt by the end of three years (only five more months to go!). Before Brian quit his day job, he had been part of the high tech layoffs in 1998. Everyone thought the high tech industry would jump back, but it took him almost six months to land a new job. We were newly married, had just bought a home, got a new car and had remote control rock crawler that I played around with. Isn’t that funny?! Everything happens at once. Well, within that six months of trying to scrape by we accrued debt. And it’s insane to me how debt can just hook on to your life like a little fishing hook. You don’t really notice that first hook or even the next couple hooks. But eventually, you have several fishing hooks of car payments, mortgages, credit card debts, unexpected medial bills, etc… and one day you wake up feeling completely weighed down. The hooks are add up and start pulling you backwards, and you feel like you are walking through mud as you try to take your dream and move forward.
Over time our business found more momentum, and Brian eventually gave up his day job to do our business full time. But all those little hooks were still hooked into us–pulling us back, keeping us from running after our dreams with total freedom. So two and a half years ago, we decided to get crazy serious about getting out of debt. We bought Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, the BEST book on how to get out of debt! And even though it was painful, completely absent of instant gratification in every sense of the word (since paying off debt takes time and there are always things you would rather do with your hard earned money than use it to pay off debt), we did everything his book said to do and stuck with it. Every other day, I would review our numbers and keep our financial goals in front of us. So we could visually be reminded of our commitment until we were done. But here is the thing; we had no idea what we were going to do once we accomplished this. We knew it’d probably feel great to be out of debt. Right? Obviously! But we didn’t know what it would open up for us. That in itself was often enough temptation to give up. Was life really that bad with this bit of debt here or there? The fact is that we couldn’t picture what we had never known.
Thankfully, we did not give up. The last two and a half years of staying focused on killing our debt has taught us so much and created discipline for us like we’ve never had. And not just in me and Brian, but the kids have been a part of it too! There is so much I could say about it. But the bottom line is that we were being prepared for the next step in our dream building. When you can start to envision your life without car payments, credit card bills, medical bills or any other kind of bill, your mind starts to find a little more space to stretch, consider and imagine!
However, you run against your own mental limitations because of things you have naively said in the past. Things like “We are going to live in this home forever because I can’t picture anything better.” Or maybe “We are going to pursue that idea when the kids are older because there is no way we could do it now…” We all have our statements that we feel so sure of when we say, and yet this summer God took a number of them apart during my morning walks. We played the game “What If?” For example, “What if I was open to leaving this home?” Instant stress! I may live in the jungles of Thailand for six weeks or survive Dengue Fever with my daughter or visit Egypt during a a revolution, but moving away from my hometown????!!!! SCARY!!! You may chuckle with me, but it’s for real! I’ve never left home! What if we did? What if we got even bolder with our dreams with the kind of fearlessness kids possess!
I am eating up Seth Godin’s new book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, because it is all about going for your dreams. A must read! How we need to stop waiting for permission, validation, the $200 when we pass “Go” and instead just go for it–take the risk of making our dream happen. Risk failing. Risk trying! But the risk involves pain too. This summer, I knew that part of “going for it” was leaving our home and moving. But there have still been missing pieces in it for me, and yet just processing the idea of moving across country was more than I could handle. So every morning these last few months, I’ve been prayerfully working it out, grieving ideas that I’ve always had of us being on this block, in this sweet neighborhood, tending my precious garden, having my parents only twenty minutes away…there has been much to grieve. And in opening my hands, being willing to let go of what I’ve held to so tightly, I now have hands to embrace the new.
Have I taken to long to get to this part in the blog post?! I don’t mean to draw it out, but I’m always hopeful that in sharing our honest struggles and challenges, you know you are not alone. And you are just as worthy of pursuing your own dreams!
What does it look like for our family of four to “go for it”?!
How does traveling the world for however many months it takes to film a Family Travel Show. What does that mean? It’s a dream that I feel like our family has been preparing for since the first time we rented a home in Thailand’s jungle–to have up close cultural encounters, bring positive exposure to foreign lands as we grow a thousand ways as a family, use our creative talents to empower other families and model for my kids what it means to go after the impossible. It means trying to raise close to a million dollars between now and January. If that doesn’t stop me… It means Brian directing a top notch film crew to help with production, editing, travel logistics and all the other GAZILLION things it takes to pull a show like this off! It means syndicating it to the networks. It means putting our sweet home on the market. It means boxing up all our belongings and putting it in storage. It also means living like nomads as we go from one country to the next. And if all goes well, stepping on to our first plane in early February with our funding raised and no clear idea of when we will land back in the states. We are thinking Dallas, TX! But time will tell and continuing to listen is key.
The most amazing part is now I see an even deeper reason for why our hearts were on fire to get out of debt. By the time we leave, we will have paid off all our personal AND business debt, except for that student loan from my graduate degree that I got thanks to a quickly approved for money from a service online. But that’s okay with me! Cars are paid off, medical bills done, only one credit card left and a few other straggler debts that are about to be finalized in the next few months. I can hardly believe it.
As Brian and I feel each of those fishing lines being cut with each new bill paid off, I feel even lighter, I feel myself running even faster, and I run towards the unknown with my husband and kids alongside me knowing that we will never know if we don’t try. If we don’t risk. If we don’t willingly step into the dark and trust that Someone is there, waiting to take our hands and guide us every step of the way.
The next few months are BIG! We have meetings being set up around the country to raise funding from potential investors and build interest among TV networks. Will you keep us in your prayers? We may do all this work between now and January and find that none of it works. We may come up short. Disappointment could be waiting for us down the road. But you know what, I’m willing to risk it. Brian is willing to risk it. Even the kids are willing to risk leaving their friends, their neighborhood and home behind.
Exhale again. Are you willing to risk for your dreams? If you whispered a yes at your computer because you are afraid of all that it could mean or not mean, you are in good company.
Join me over the next couple weeks, actually months, as we continue to share this process with you, introduce you to our new CONFIDENCE teachers, and give you the opportunity to possibly join us in one of those exotic countries our family plans to film in!
If you know that this is the kind of thing you want more encouragement in, I’m so excited to have a special series of FIVE different keynote talks available later this month! For the last two years, I’ve been building a series with these different keynotes I’ve done at conferences on how to live in the dark, step into the unknown, find your creative voice, and do it as a family. I can’t wait to have them available to all of you very soon! More on that to come!
Cheers to finding courage to dream, and then seeing your first dream link to the next dream and then the next and the next! Dream linking…what do you think?!