Growing up, I watched my mom model what it meant to be a happy homemaker. Among other “good things,” she was a good cook. No amount of fancy restaurant food could render me more satiated than her fried chicken with homemade smashed potatoes, as we used to call them, white gravy and home-grown corn. First Peter 4:9 says we should offer hospitality without grumbling. Mom’s unspoken translation: grumbling included vapored, boring, time-wasting apologizes to drop-in company about the state of the house (it’s all about ME), rather than investment in the warm welcome and well being of those in it.

With this happy, relaxed and affirming upbringing, becoming a mom like my mom was my Dream. A dream that came true nearly right out of high school when I married at eighteen. Sure, I had to take on a job to help make ends meet. Yes, we began to have our share of problems after our oldest was born eleven months after the wedding. But still, I felt my dream was riding high for four years—right up until the relationship fell apart and ended in divorce.

What happened to my dream? Was God still with me after that?

The last couple years, while writing and editing Finding Our Way Home, I “lived with” two fictional characters whose individual dreams—visions for how their lives should and would play out—also shattered. I felt their hope, rode the shiny waves of their successes and joy, then crumbled inside when things fell apart for them. I could relate—almost a little too well!

Sometimes I compare being a writer to a parent vicariously living through her children. When my son wrestled in high school, I was often shocked, SHOCKED, to discover I had no mat burns on my cheeks at the end of a gruesome match! It was the same when I completed writing a few of Evelyn and Sasha’s heartbreaking scenes. I needed to look into a mirror just to separate myself from the character whose skin I’d been living in all those writing hours. Often, tears were streaming down my cheeks too, not just those of my characters.

What I learned from my characters (I don’t outline, I story chase and listen real close, write what I “see” them do in a film that runs in my head), is that no matter what, a simple ongoing prayer for “Grace, Amen” is potent. Thank you, Lord, for giving me Sasha and Evelyn, two women who reminded me--taught me--so much about grace. With their antennae up, and through the anointed power of small, relentless acts of love given and received within their uncommon friendship, their new dreams began to emerge. Dreams based on the whispers and promise of a God who says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.

But how do we tell our dreams for our lives from those of our creator? What are the spiritual implications of our failed determination and endless pining for “our” dream, our vision, our heart’s desires? What does it mean when dreams are deferred, or lost? What if we’re planning for the wrong future, not the one God has in mind?

Is it then, in the middle of loss, that we most tune in, surrendered, at long last willing to have it God’s way? Or is it just possible that everything else we thought was our dream—the pining, the vision, maybe even the fulfillment of such—was Step One of preparation for what God wanted next for our lives, complete with a learning curve about humility? Isn’t it then when we bow down and depend upon God’s promise to make good on the years the locust have eaten? [Joel 2:25]  When my dream, my marriage, crumbled before my eyes, what else was there for me to do, other than turn to the God who loves me?