One day, a while back, I asked a group of friends this question: If someone gave you a million dollars, and told you that you must spend it on yourself within one year or you’d have to give it back… what would you do with it?
I didn’t leave them much time to think about it lest everyone get too lyrical and logical about the idea. I was after visceral reactions. I wanted to hear dreams.
One by one we went around the circle of fifteen, each woman dream-spending one million dollars on themselves. What the solid majority of my friends (young and old[er}) wanted was….
I was stunned. Really? Because, you see, I grew up traveling all over Europe with my family. When we came home from our time of living overseas I was in high school and I promised myself that I would never travel again. Ever.
I am perfectly happy staying in my cute little cottage with occasional forays to the mountains or the seaside.
If I had a million dollars that I just had to spend on me… I’d find a vintage A-frame cabin on a lake and fix it up just so, then host Comer family and friend vacations as often as possible. And sometimes I’d go alone, all that introverted side of me flourishing in the silence.
When I told my daughter, Bekah, (who absolutely loves to travel whenever and wherever possible) about my surprise at my friends’ dreams, she couldn’t stop laughing. “Mom, everyone wants to travel!”
And though she didn’t say it, I could hear her thinking just what you’re thinking now: that I am really, really weird… or odd… or something along those lines.
Do you want to know where I am right now?
On a plane bound for Albania.
I know, I know, I don’t deserve this. Or the two days we’ll explore the rich history in Thessalonica, Greece. And certainly not the weekend we’ll stay in Donnes, an Albanian resort town on the Adriatic Sea.
And I’m asking myself the same question you’re asking: Why me?
In the past couple of years I have traveled to Uganda, Brussels, Haiti, Hawaii, Germany, Austria, Italy, Indonesia and Albania. Plus, on the home front, I’ve spent time in Santa Cruz, L.A., Palm Desert, San Francisco, Vancouver, Eugene, and Newport.
And I don’t (or at least I didn’t) like to travel!
Here’s what I know:
God is a giver of dreams… and God is bigger than our dreams.
Which is why I am drinking coffee at 30,000 feet.
My secret dream was born over thirty years ago when I began to ask God for wisdom I didn’t have. A fairly new follower of Jesus with our first baby in my arms, my asking was pretty desperate.
What do I do? How do I do this? Help!
I had no idea how to raise children to follow Jesus— I hardly knew how to follow Him myself! And so I prayed and then I introduced myself to the mother of the godliest teenagers I knew and asked if she’d teach me. Laurie Keyes was everything I wanted to be: wise, godly, consistent, joyful, so full of passion for Jesus that just to be in conversation with her was like being at a retreat. And she was (and still is!) strikingly beautiful, with that kind of glow that all the fancy clothes and cosmetics in the world cannot create.
I listened and I learned and wrote notes and read every book I could get my hands on that had anything to do with the spiritual nurturing of children. For decades!
And somewhere in there I started to want to find a way to pass on all this richness to others who, like me, don’t have a clue.
The wanting led to dreaming. The dreaming led to praying. The praying led to a whole lot of work. The work led to… a dream come true.
This morning as I hustled about tidying up my cottage (because everyone knows that you’ve just got to leave your house absolutely perfectly clean when going on a trip! Which, surprise, surprise, Phil thinks it utter nonsense!!), something dawned on me… something profound… something it’s taking me far too many words to tell you…
God knows the me that I am.
I thought I wanted to stay in my cottage in the woods, to live simple and quiet.
And that is, indeed, a part of who I am. But there’s more, and I didn’t know it. Now I know…
I was made for this.
I love this adventure. I love packing my bags, reading ahead about where we’re going, saving up frequent flyer miles so I can take my now-grown kids with me someday.
I love meeting new people, making new friends, finding soul-sisters all over the world. I relish tasting new foods (Albanian food is the best! All feta cheese and fresh peppers), I love learning how people around the world do life.
Most of all, I love doing this with Phil, whose love of travel and willingness to lead the way makes him the best companion imaginable. (Plus, he gets up every morning no matter where we are and finds the absolutely best coffee to be had and brings it to me so I can drink it in bed. How’s that for the real deal kind of love?)
Today we fly across the world to teach parents in Durres, Albania how to raise children who are passionate followers of Jesus. They are the first generation of Believers in a country that was officially atheist until just over 20 years ago. They don’t know what they’re doing any more than I did. And they want to learn, just like I did.
I can hardly wait to get there! Me, the woman who made that ridiculous promise to myself. Do you think God may have been chuckling?
Do you have a dream?
Because I think— no, I know— that…
God has tasks for you that combine all of who you are with all of who He is in a dream big enough to change the world.
There’s probably risk involved and you’ll undoubtedly be way out of your comfort zone at times. You may have to try some things you don’t think you like, and you’ll certainly have to work hard and long.
And oh, the joy! Because…
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, so fun as doing the dreams God has for you.
From my heart, high in the sky,
P.S. Okay, here’s your open door:
Will you dare to dream right here in black and white? Write it down for all to see, this dream you barely dare. I, for one, will pray for each and every one of you. For courage, for hope, for help— for joy.