return to kindergarten

Awakening the embers of your God-given dreams. 
By Livy Jarmusch 
Photos from: www.weheartit.com 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We were all asked that question in Kindergarten and our answers were crazy. We were completely unrealistic, as we shouted out whatever sounded like the most fun to us that day, “A Firefighter! An Astronaut! A Ballerina!”

For us kids, we were completely limitless! Our daily imaginary play carried us to places all over the world, as we tinkered around in every profession imaginable. We were princesses, doctors, popstars, Mommy’s, veterinarians, and race car drivers.  We were fearless. We were unrealistic. We were totally and completely free to be our true, uninhibited, unhindered selves. We were dreamers.    

When I was in Kindergarten, kids from our class were chosen to be “Student of the Month.” It was a rare and exciting honor to be chosen, and when they chose me, I was totally stoaked! The Student of the Month had the privilege of being pulled from class to have their photograph taken and answer a few questions for a short interview. I grinned as they snapped my photo, and was totally breezing through the interview…until they reached the question. The question that is the chief of all questions.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

 
I didn’t know what to say! It’s not that I was running short on ideas that particular day. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I knew that my future was loaded with more roles than what would fit on a single sheet of paper! I wanted to be an author, a singer, a songwriter, an illustrator, a dancer, and a mother. I wanted to direct, produce, and star in my own movies. I started to open up my mouth and give my teacher a long paragraph about everything that my future self would be doing, but I knew that the space given for her to write was only a sentence long! Frantically, I had to pick something. So I went with the first one that popped in, “An author!”

When I got home from school that day, I told Mom about my dilemma. I filled her in on all the details of everything that I wanted to accomplish in my life, and her response was stunning. In fact, thinking back on this conversation now, I realize that God was speaking directly through her. She said,
“That’s so great Livy! I believe you can do all of that!”

Now, did my Mom actually believe that? Eh, not quite. (Trust me, I’ve asked her!) But I believe that the Lord put those words in her mouth, to encourage and strengthen me, and spur me on to keep dreaming. What if she would have crossed her arms, looked down at me with a frown and said, “Um, sorry to burst your bubble girl, but that is not realistic. When you grow up, you’ll have to pick one thing to focus on, maybe two, and possibly three if we are really stretching it. But the real world will not let you do all of those things.”  

What might have happened to my little heart if she responded in that way? I praise God that I didn’t ever have to find out! Instead, the Lord protected that moment and gave her the right words to say in our conversation. Those words helped to set me on the path that God has for my life. 

I am a dreamer. The beautiful thoughts, spectacular ideas, and breathtaking inspiration that soars through my mind every day, is something I wouldn’t want to trade for the world! But I cannot imagine what my life would be like, if my dreams, desires, skills, and talents hadn’t been nurtured and encouraged by my Mom. I don’t have a clue what I would be doing today if she hadn’t pulled me out of public school, begin homeschooing, and allowed God to give me a tailor-made education that aligned with the dreams and desires He gave me at such a young age. I was raised with total confidence, 100% believing that I could be and do all of those things that my heart desired. And so as I grew older, I wrote, I dreamed, and I danced. I designed homes, and built schools in my mind. I schemed up strategic plans to change this entire world. Because as a child, there were no limits, remember? 

As little girls, we believed in so many wild and wonderful things. Instead of quenching and suppressing these dreams seeds, my dreams only continued to get BIGGER, as my childhood faith collided with a massive God!

I am passionate about dreams. Especially if they are big, crazy, impossible ones. But as the years have gone by, I’ve discovered that I’m not just passionate about my dreams. I’m actually passionate about your dreams! One of my biggest dreams, is to see your dreams come true. If you were to hang out with me one afternoon to have tea and cookies, you would quickly discover that I love talking about dreams.

I don’t talk about dreams simply to build hype and stir excitement: I want this generation to understand the heaven-sent depth of purpose in their dreams.

Dreams are not silly. Dreams are not random. And dreams are never too big or unrealistic!

Your dreams are vital keys, blueprints, and answers from heaven that will liberate and rescue people in a totally unique way! This world cannot afford the costly tragedy of you ignoring your God-given dreams. It’s so important that we uncover and reveal the “mystery” behind our dreams, become really clear on why God has given them to us, what they are, how to take action, what road blocks to expect along the way, and how to move into the fullness of our destinies! I have learned that it is so important to embrace my dreams, dare to chase them down, and then encourage others to do the same!

I’ve been on an amazing journey with dreams. I’ve experienced joy, heartbreak, and total frustration. I’ve experienced the joy of a desire fulfilled, as several of my childhood dreams are starting to form and take place in my life today. I’ve also experienced the heartbreak of crushing disappointment when something I longed for and desired so deeply didn’t happen. I’ve experienced the wild frustration of being pregnant with the promises of God, and waiting on something that feels like it might never come. But every element of highs and lows are all part of the dreamers journey! I’ve learned a lot so far, and even though I know there is much, much more to be revealed, it is my gift to share these things with you. We are sisters, and we are headed down this path together! So let’s encourage one another, and cheer each other on!

purposeless and passionless 

I want to address is a crisis happening in our generation. Some people call it “The American Dream.” Others call it, “The System.” But I’m going to call it, “The Dream Stealer.”

In our culture, we have all been taught that there is an established system of how we must live our lives in order to be successful in this world. “The American Dream” is often described as being happily married with two children, living in a suburb with a dog named Duke, and a white-washed fence. You and your husband work full time, you have barely enough money to pay off your student loans, your home mortgage, your vehicles, and maybe squeeze in a family vacation to Disney World every once in a while. You are expected to work hard, bring home the bread, and put a little bit here and there into your savings, until it’s time to retire. Once you retire, you are finally free to do what you’ve always dreamed about! Go fishing! Travel the world! Buy a boat and explore the seven seas! Retirement is the goal that everyone is encouraged to pursue, but tragically when most elderly folks reach retirement, they still haven’t lived out their God-given dreams. Why?

There are many reasons why we don’t follow our dreams. Sometimes it’s because of fear. Sometimes it’s money stress. Sometimes it’s because we’re not really clear on what our dreams actually are! And sometimes it’s because of pressure from our society and culture that pushes us into a field we’re not truly passionate about.

The moment we graduate High School, the question that we were asked in Kindergarten comes back to surface. But this time, the question comes with a ruthless vengeance! “What are you going to do with your life?” The question screams, “Are you going to college? How are you going to pay your bills? What are you going to do to be successful?!”

Suddenly, we realize that we are not in Kindergarten anymore.  In the blink of an eye, we’re forced with life-altering decisions that we’re not ready to make. We grapple to find a realistic answer that is going to please the people around us, and hopefully make us feel satisfied with it as well. Maybe we will go to college. Maybe we will take a gap year. Maybe we’ll get a job downtown and start saving up. Whatever we decide, we must decide quickly, because the stress and pressure is oh so real! We are adults now! We have to get it together, and get it together ASAP! 

I am truly amazed at the number of Christians that I run into who are not living out their God given dreams. Sure, they’re getting by, and are prosperous and successful in the eyes of the world. They’re working, going to school, providing for their family, and doing the daily do’s that this life demands. But it’s not very often that you run into someone and when you ask how they’re doing they say,
“Amazing! I love where I am right now! Every morning, I seriously leap out of bed, because I love my job so much! God has me in a position to be living out the dreams that He gave me as a child, and even though I’m living by faith on the edge of the great unknown, I know I am right where He wants me! I have peace about it all, because I know I’m smack dab in the middle of His plan for me.”

Most of us feel like we’re still struggling to discover God’s plan for our lives. We run through the treadmill of our daily schedules, and try to keep up with it all, but at the end of the day we will feel like something is missing. We attempt to be content, and trust that God has us where He wants us, but if we really dig down deep, and ask ourselves the hard questions, we sometimes discover that we’re not doing what we truly love

Do you live every day with passion, excited about where God has you? Do you bounce out of bed in the morning when thoughts of your job float into your mind, because you simply can’t wait to get started? What kind of projects are you working on, that make you feel electrified from the inside out, and you simply have peace in knowing that this is totally the right thing?

Revelation 3:1 says,
“You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”

Many Christians are like walking zombies. We’re tired, exhausted, crabby, sick, confused, and struggling to find joy. We say that we love Jesus, that He is our passion, and He makes us feel totally alive, but quite often we feel pretty dead inside.

Sometimes, we just have to take a step back and reevaluate things in our lives. Our schedules are so busy, and the demands of life are wildly crazy. But if we are running a million miles a minute and still don’t feel peace deep in our souls, shouldn’t we stop and make sure that we are running in the right direction?

Time is ticking. The days on the calendar are whooshing by, and pretty soon the allotted time that we’ve been given on this earth will be over. We will stand before Jesus, and only what is tested by fire and still remains, will be worth anything. All of our works will be tested. What are we doing with our lives that has meaning and purpose? What are we doing that has true substance and eternal value?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste my time running in a purposeless rat race. I don’t want to chase something, just because I haven’t had the time to stop and think, “Wait a minute. What am I doing? Where am I going? Why am I even here?” 

This life is like a vapor. It’s going by so, so quickly! Every moment we have is precious. We are told to redeem the time, and make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)
One of the enemy’s greatest tactics is for us to run on the track of this “American Dream”, and succumb to the pressure and pushing of our crazy culture. They enemy wants us to run, and run, and run some more, barreling down this daily Dream Stealer that isn’t getting us anywhere.

The Bible is constantly calling us to stop and rest. To quiet our souls, seek Him, and ask for His direction. God is our Shepherd, Leader and Trial Guide! If we are truly surrendered to Him, at any moment He may ask us to shift direction. The trail that we’ve been on for a season was completely right for that season, but if we don’t slow down and quiet ourselves to seek His direction, we might completely miss what He has for us right now.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." – John 3:8

I don’t know about you, but God is constantly shifting and rearranging things in my life. With each new season, I have to become more and more flexible about the path He is leading me on. I cannot become stiff and rigid and say, “No God! That is not part of my life plan!”

If I am to be truly surrendered to the leading of His Spirit, I have to be willing to change everything about my life and the direction that I am headed, in a split second. He is the potter and I am the clay.  I want to be moldable and pliable in His hands. If He wants something to change, I want to be completely surrendered to that. But sometimes, surrender can be really scary! Especially when there is pressure coming from our parents, friends, and the very nature of our culture, which is pushing us on, shouting, “Go, go, go! Don’t stop! Go to college, get a job, chose right now the one path that you’re going to follow for the rest of your life! Work, work, work, and don’t rest until you retire!”

Want to know a little secret? The enemy hates it when we rest! The Bible implores us over and over again to stop and sit at Jesus' feet. To be like Mary, and not like Martha. To choose the better thing. The eternal thing. When I look back at what God has done in my life so far, everything beautiful and liberating has come from moments when I was completely quiet. When I was still in His presence, listening to His voice. The enemy doesn't want us to stop, because if we don't stop and rest, we can't hear God's voice! 

When I graduated High School, I felt these familiar pressures breathing down my neck. “What are you going to do with your life Livy? What will you occupation be? What are you going to study in college?”

I felt so much pressure to pick something, that just like in Kindergarten, I went with the first thing that popped into my mind. “An author.” I thought, “I guess I’ll be an author. I mean, I do a lot of writing, so that makes sense, right? It’s practical, you can get paid for it, and it’s somewhat realistic, right?” 

So I enrolled in some online college classes, and took a creative writing course. I got lots of great nuggets out of it, and still use some of the skills I learned there. But deep down, I knew that it wasn’t the right thing for me.  Why? Because I had moved forward in fear. I jumped into something, simply because I felt like I had no other choice. I couldn’t just stop and wait on the Lord for His direction and timing. No, that would look far too lazy! How would I explain that to my Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles? Fear gripped my heart, and so I hopped onto the Dream Stealer bandwagon!

Now please understand that I am not in any way frowning upon or bashing college. Pursuing forms of higher education is a wonderful thing! What a massive blessing that is for so many people! The Lord has a different path for everyone! But the truth is that we are living in a culture that shames us into thinking that if we don’t go to college, we are going to be complete and utter failures. While it is true that a college education is vital for so many dreams and professions, I am simply encouraging you to refrain from cringing if God asks you to think outside the box a little bit. Don’t allow this culture to mold and control the way that you think. If God is calling you to do something outside of the typical American Dream, then do not be afraid. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a daily rat race of chasing a definition of success that you don’t feel peace about. If God has called you to go to school and work faithfully at a normal nine to five job, then you go girl! But if you feel like God is drawing you to something else outside of that mold, then it is my prayer that these words will help you find the courage to do so.  

We only have one life! Shouldn't we each be doing what we love? Shouldn’t we do the very thing that God has created us to do?

Sister, I want you to experience the unspeakable joy of a desire fulfilled! I want to see you walking out and fulfilling your God given dreams! Not just for your sake, but for the sake of God’s glory, and the hearts of those who so desperately need what your dream will give them! 

You are like a beautiful and majestic ship, with fluffy white sails blowing in the wind. God can steer and direct you wherever He pleases, if you are willing to allow Him to breathe into your sails. Your massive ship is controlled by a tiny tool, the rudder. Your heart. Will you surrender your heart, your life, and your dreams to God, once again? 

It is quite possible, that if you are reading this, the Lord has a grand and magnificent purpose in you finding these words. He might begin to stir the waters of your soul, and steer your rudder into a whole new direction. Do you hear Him calling you out on a fresh, and a new adventure? If God is beckoning you to wave your white flag of surrender, and allow Him to have complete control of your ship once again, then there is no need to fear! The Mighty Captain knows what He is doing! He will not lead you into a storm to destroy you. He has an amazing and perfect plan. No matter what windy torrents might come your way, He will always be faithful to lead you back into the safe harbor of His heart. 

If God is calling you out onto the uncharted waters of your dreams, you don't have to do this on your own. You are never alone. He is always with you. I’ll be with you too! I will lend my courage, my faith, and my prayers to cover you on the days when you feel like you cannot make it. We are sisters, and we are in this together!