“For all the heartbreak dreamers waiting for the light
Looking for just one reason to get through the night
Every long lost believer caught in the fight
All the heartbreak dreamers gonna be alright
– Mat Kearney, Heartbreak Dreamer
Several months ago my daughter Avery and her classmates were presented with a surprise Chick-fil-A lunch by an author friend of mine who deeply appreciates her Noticer existence and firefly light.
On the day of the celebration, the author had prepared a special note for Avery’s teacher to read out loud. The author explained the reason for the party as this:
“Dear Avery, I hope you and your classmates enjoy this special treat. It’s my way of honoring you and saying ‘thank you’ for all you’ve done to inspire so many (including me) just by being who you are – a light who shines from within and a Noticer. I also hope you appreciate just how incredible and how beautiful those two ‘invisible’ gifts are and that you will never stop being you.”
As those words were read, the expression on my child’s face was nearly indescribable, but I will try. Beyond an enormous smile that could not be contained was equal parts joy … certainty … clarity … relief … peace … and fire. Oh yes, behind Avery’s little pair of eyeglasses was a fiery determination I’d never seen before. And above Avery’s head, the Sky of Possibilities opened up. For a brief moment I was a mind reader, feeling quite certain what she was thinking: I am somebody, and I have a gift worthy of sharing.
One week later, Avery began writing music; I am talking real songs, real chords, and soul-stirring lyrics that might be heard on the radio today. Coincidence? I think not. The gift of affirmation is mighty powerful—it has the power to become belief, inspiration, and courage when given at a pivotal time in a person’s life.
I knew something had really ignited in Avery’s heart when this sometimes shy child asked her big sister to make her a YouTube channel. Avery called it “TheHappyGirl2006” and wanted the world to hear her songs.
Shortly after the channel had been up and running, I received a message from someone who was deeply moved by one of Avery’s original songs. This woman said she’d gained indescribable strength from the lyrics of “Oh My Soul”. In addition, she used Avery’s video to encourage her four-year-old daughter—a budding ukulele player just as Avery had once been. The woman added that one morning she could not get Avery’s song out of her head and was happily singing it. Her daughter said, “Hey, what song is that? Is that Avery’s song?”
Knowing only very catchy tunes get stuck in one’s head, I excitedly relayed the story to Avery. And there it was again—that glorious expression of joy … certainty … clarity … relief … peace … and fiery determination shining brighter than her smile. The sky above Avery’s head opened up. The words, “It is possible,” were written in big, bold letters.
My immediate thought was how much I wished every child could receive such powerful affirmation for something they do well or love to do. But then, just as quickly, I thought of you and that little child inside you that once dreamed big, larger-than-life dreams. I hope and pray she or he still does.
For some reason—maybe a million—that dream never made it to fruition. Perhaps no one said, “Yes, you can.” Perhaps no one said, “I believe in you.” Perhaps you were never really sure what made your heart come alive—and if you did, perhaps life got in the way. Maybe doubt and fear overpowered that little voice pleading you to step out on faith. Perhaps life’s choices and circumstances have simply brought you to where you are now, the dreamer child within you nearly silent.
But not gone. No, not gone.
I read your private messages. I read your public comments. And through your words, I see you. I see that little girl or boy who once dreamed of igniting the passion of the heart—the spark that’s felt when you’re doing something that makes your heart come alive.
My little dreamer girl still lives inside me. She’s eight years old, a notebook-filler who loves nothing more than to write stories for hours and hours. But when it came time to choose her career path, she chose teaching. To be honest, she didn’t think she was good enough to become an author. For ten years that dreamer girl taught special needs children for long hours each day so there was no time to write. That left her with an unsettling feeling, like something was missing, like she wasn't using a vital part of her body, like part of her soul had fallen asleep. But there was no time in the day to shake it awake. Whenever her heart would ache to write, she’d tell herself it was too late; she’d chosen her path.
At one point, the little dreamer started a tiny business called, “It’s a Personal Thing,” where she wrote custom poetry for individuals to gift their loved ones in times of celebration and sorrow. Her business never took off, but she saw the way people cried when they read her words. Her soul stirred each time someone said, “How did you manage to say the things on my heart I could not say?” The dreamer girl prayed for a way to use her God-given writing gift to help others while still making a living. For five years, she prayed about this writing dream while keeping a small notebook with her at all times. She wrote down hundreds of ideas. Most of them were not-so-good ideas. But it only took one good idea.
Around the time she had one good idea, she was reading Patti’s Digh’s inspiring book called Life is a Verb. It said:
“Early in her career Toni Morrison worked at Random House publishers. One day her head exploded just as mine had, and she started her list of to-do items. She wrote pages and pages of things that she must do. Faced with the long list, she sat and looked at it for a long while, finally asking herself one question: What is it I must do or I shall die?
After answering that question, there were only two things left on her to-do list: 1) Be a mother to her children. 2) Write.”
When the little dreamer girl read that part of the book, the sky opened up. In big, bold letters above her head it said, “It is possible.”
Because that little girl, who was now almost forty years old, knew there were only two things she must do before she left this earth. The first was to truly know her children and spouse by being a constant presence and source of love and support in their lives. The other was to write. Write. Write. Her heart screamed, “It’s time.”
In order to develop her writing gift, as well as her dream, she needed time to write. With two young children, there was little time, so she gave up television. She quickly learned that in the time she could watch a 30-minute show, she could easily write 500 to 1000 words. Her stories began to form before her eyes. She quietly shared them with trusted friends and family who encouraged her to share them more widely.
That little girl kept writing. She also asked lots of questions and researched extensively to learn as much as she could about fulfilling her writing dream. Most days she was excited and hopeful, but some days she was doubtful and teary. She earned little money and many rejections. Once her words were public, there were attacks on her writing, her mothering, and her self-esteem.
But yet, she felt successful.
Why? Because her measure of success was this: To touch ONE life with each story she wrote.
It is still her goal today, two published books later, as she writes this very piece you are reading.
My friends, each time someone on the receiving end of one of my written lifelines says, “Your words helped me today,” the little dreamer girl inside me jumps for joy. “Please keep writing,” you say, and I see the writing in the sky: It is possible.
Each time I hear my child strumming away on her guitar, I pass that encouragement on to her.
“Keep singing,” I urge with every fiber in my body, “Please don't ever stop singing.”
And now it is your turn. Today I am looking into your eyes. Imagine my hands in yours as I speak these words to you:
What is your dream, precious child?
What makes your heart come alive?
What is your dream, little dreamer?
And now listen very carefully to my response:
Yes, you can.
It is possible.
2016 is your year. You have waited a long time for this—and don’t think for one minute those years have been wasted time. Oh no. All these years and experiences have been preparing you for this moment—this moment when the Sky of Possibilities opens up above your head.
What must you do before you leave this earth, precious child?
Now listen to my response:
Your dream is important.
It is so very important. Do not let the naysayers, real or imaginary, tell you otherwise.
From my eight-year-old dreamer heart to yours, “It’s time. It’s time.”
Just look up at the big, bold words written in the sky …
It is possible.
My friends, I just have to tell you. As I was working on this piece, I received a message from a member of The Hands Free Revolution community. Having a publishing dream herself, she asked me to tell her my first step. After corresponding with some details and encouraging words, she said something I will never forget: “You just made my black and white version of life turn into 3D color.” Friends, I saw her sky open up right then and there. And because I think it’s helpful to see real life examples of dreams coming to fruition, I want to tell you about several dear friends who I’ve been blessed to encourage as they take bold steps to do what makes their hearts come alive. Following that list of individuals is a jumping off point for you that I hope you will consider, as well as an incredible resource to help you move you forward. In the comments today, please tell us your dream or simply put #itstime as a declaration of what’s to come. Take a look at what these brave people are doing …
- Katrina Willis – While working full-time as a corporate copywriter, balancing a number of freelance assignments, supporting her husband through the pursuit of his doctoral degree, and raising four children (born within five years), Katrina started a blog, established an online platform, and began her lifelong dream of publishing a novel. After years of writing and editing — and despite numerous setbacks and agent/publisher rejections — that novel, Parting Gifts, releases on April 19, 2016. Follow her here.
- Heather Tolley-Bauer – Heather is no stranger to reinventing herself. She did it when she left her corporate job and started her own company and again a year ago when she accidentally found her next big thing in a stand up comedy class. Spreading her mommy comedy in sold out shows all over Atlanta, this rising comedian is following her passion of inspiring women to be kind to themselves and each other by laughing away the mommy guilt. Follow her here.
- Kerry Foreman – Kerry moved out on her own at age 16 and was the first person in her family to graduate college. She went to graduate school at age 38 to pursue her dream of becoming a counselor. She worked as a school counselor before transitioning to her dream job of psychotherapist. She leads hiking groups as a hiking therapist in the Rocky Mountains and specializes in Mindfulness. She shares her wisdom and experiences on Get Grounded, a site for those who want to live authentically and choose happy. Follow her here.
- Beth Novawk – Taking a GIGANTIC leap of faith, Beth resigned from teaching in 2012 to start her own company, Giving Families. Shortly after developing the concept for its Good Mail Challenges, she received an Honorable Mention in Stanford University's Compassion and Technology Competition and was invited to present “Helping Our Littlest Helpers” at TEDx in 2014. Last year, she began shipping Challenges to families in all 50 states throughout the continental US and, in March 2016, she plans to begin shipping internationally. Follow her here.
- Kaitlin Curtice – Kaitlin is currently writing a book of stories and prayers that reflect on how we can find glory in every day spaces. She recently accepted an invitation to be a deacon at her church, although that meant going out of her comfort zone and stretching herself into new territories. And although she’d never given guitar lessons in her life, she said yes to TheHappyGirl’s mother’s request—and the rest is history. Kaitlin believes we are always and forever learners and that we shouldn’t be afraid of that. She also believes we shouldn’t be afraid to embrace whatever season we are in because it’s teaching us something that shows us who we are, and that’s never worthless. Follow her here.
- Kristin Vanderhey Shaw – Kristin left her job and hung up her frequent flyer card in 2013 to pursue her dream of writing, while spending more time with her family. Now she is regularly published by The Huffington Post and The Washington Post, among other sites, and owns a freelance writing company, Firewheel Communications. Her next goals are to publish a children's book, a novel, and an essay in the New York Times. Follow her here.
If you would like a jumping off point for dream pursing … please consider auditioning for Listen to Your Mother. Last year my friend Kristin Shaw encouraged me to audition in my city. I had no idea the opportunities it would offer me: a chance to go outside my comfort zone & grow … a chance to meet & know some of the most beautiful-hearted people in my city … a chance to fill some missing holes in my life due to our recent move. I especially had no idea it would bring the most amazing guitar & vocal instructor and friend into Avery’s life. Listen to Your Mother auditions are happening very soon in 41 cities (sign ups are happening now click here for updates). Please know you do not have to be a writer or a mother or even a woman to share your story. This is open to everyone. Click here to see what cities are holding productions.
If you would like a resource for dream pursing … please get acquainted with Dr. Jessica Michaelson. I recently got to be a part of her powerful initiative, “Be What You're About” which is an interview series with women who are creating creative and purpose-driven careers while being engaged, present moms. My interview, like the others, covers how I began my dream and how I manage time for my work while maintaining my goals as a mother. There is a wealth of inspiring content on Jessica’s blog, as well as growth opportunities. Beginning January 19, 2015 is another session of Jessica’s Finding What You Didn't Lose, which is a group journaling program for women who have lost themselves to productivity, stress, and perfection, and want to reconnect with their values and the beauty of their lives. Jessica is offering a special savings code to our community. Use the code: HANDSFREE for a 10% discount. This offer is good through 1/16.
One final note – I did not set out to be a speaker when I pursued my writing dream, but it has become one of my favorite parts of this journey. On Saturday, January 30, 2015 from 2:30 to 3:30pm I will be speaking at the Indy Women’s Expo at the IN State Fairgrounds (Ag-Hort Building). I will be doing a book signing of HANDS FREE LIFE directly afterwards. My favorite part about speaking is meeting YOU and hearing your stories. Indiana, please come as you are. Let me see that light within you and tell you how beautiful it is. Click here for ticket and event information.
Don't forget to tell us your dream in the comments or use the hashtag #itstime. Simply by sharing your dream, it becomes a little more real for you and has the power to inspire someone else.
How do you do it Rachel? I haven’t been on here for a while (but have been wondering how you’ve been doing since your op) and I was only asking myself today, “how am I going to live my dream?” and then I read this. I once again can totally relate to your words and tears welled … As usual. Thank you. You’ve given me hope. It is possible. You’ve taken my day from black and white to colour as well. #itstime 2016 is definitely the year. My daughter starts kindy this year so it means more time for me, my health, my business, my art. I have always wanted to make something of my art – utilise it. Use it on useable items. With my graphic design background, I can really make it work. I know I can. I’ve always known I can but like you, my family, my little girl comes first. I always had this idea that once I had a child, it would open up a whole new world. These first years have been the waiting years but now she’s spreading her wings so I can spread mine with her and she can benefit from watching me fly! Thank you Rachel. It’s almost like you heard my question that I put out there today. The Universe works in mysterious ways. XXX
Rachel Stafford says
Oh Brigitte, in one solitary comment you made me feel so grateful I shared this story! It is quite different from what I usually post so Doubt and Fear wondered if anyone would like it or benefit from it. But as you know, I only needed ONE–one voice to say, “This was for me.” Thank you for this divine confirmation. I look forward to watching you soar.
Your post really touched my heart today, to not give up even through the hard times.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for letting me know, Samantha. I am so glad you are here and are choosing not to give up on your dreams.
Everyday I wallow in a sea of regrets, the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s that pass through ones mind now and again. I should have done this and I could have done that, regreting every step I took as a young woman. Today, I vow to take steps, granted baby ones, to change these to I am, I can, and I am going to…. Your words have inspired me to push my past back where it belongs and strive for the future that I know that I have always been destined for but to afraid to try. To take my love of art, photography, and graphics, past being a hobby, and tyrn it into a job, a carrer that I will live and look foorward to enjoying each and every day. Thank you, you inspire the little girl with the big box of 64 colors that is beating down the walls of my insecurities to get out!
Woo hoo! It sounds like you’re on a similar journey Katie. Let’s do this thing!!! Because we can. :0) #itstime
Rachel Stafford says
Love your fiery determination, Brigitte! It’s contagious!
Rachel Stafford says
I wish you could see the little dreamer girl inside me as I read your words. She is jumping for joy and doing cartwheels! I am GRATEFUL to know what my words have inspired in you! I cannot WAIT to see what you do with your gifts and your newfound determination! Keep me posted! #itstime
Stephen Knott says
As the father of Kerry Foreman, and having known you since elementary school, I am proud to say I know you both and the women that you are. Your lights do shine and in the present moment.
Rachel Stafford says
Wow. This brought tears to my eyes, Stephen. Kerry has shared with me how supportive you have been over the past years. I am so grateful to you for that. The world needs Kerry’s voice and wisdom. Thank you for seeing that too. With love and good memories, Rachel
Jenny Johnston says
IT IS TIME!
Rachel Stafford says
I am celebrating with you, Jenny!!! #itstime
Thank you Rachel for your words, yet again! Yes, 2016 will the year that I turn my personal photo blogging into something bigger! So many comments over the last few years have opened a sky of possibilities. It is possible. It’s time!
You speak beautiful, BEAUTIFUL courage into my life with this post!! I cried reading it. God is circling a message to me through you and it touched me deeply. Thank you for your courage, sharing your gift, and sharing this post. (Avery too, has encouraged me more than once now (even though I am a fairly new reader) through your posts! ) You show me the sky is there – now I must have the courage to move toward it and watch it open up!
Rachel Stafford says
Oh how I love this, Tammy! My soul cries tears of HAPPINESS at the sound of your aspirations coming to life.
Oh just lovely. What a hope filled, inspiring, motivating, and heart warming post. Thank you dear Rachel for brightening my day again and again!
For over 10 years my husband has told me I should blog this morning I think I worked out my angle/message
Rachel Stafford says
I am seriously doing the happy dance right here. Let’s mark the calendar with a big gold star in honor of Michelle mapping out a plan. Because when you map out a plan, there is truly no stopping us. I will be anxiously awaiting the day you come back and share the link to YOUR BLOG!!! Yes, your blog!!! It’s not only possible, but it’s happening! It’s happening! What an honor to witness this glorious moment! #itstimeformichelle
John S Green says
#itstime Two years a go I created Papa Green Bean LLC, with the intention of a blog for first time parents, children’s books, family board games, and pet parent parties. Well, the blog is active—posting 1–2 times a month, but the other areas are still in developmental stage. I just told my wife that I want to have a children’s book and the pet parent party packs done by the end of the year. Reading this post has given me an extra spark to reach the next goal I have for the end on January! Thanks, Rachel—and hello to my favorite Noticer! #itstime16
As is often the case Rachel, your words bring tears to my eyes. Thank you. Your blessings to the world are great.
Pamela Marsh says
Rachel, I am so often encouraged by your words, yet this post especially inspired me. With two young boys myself, and an adopted daughter waiting for us to bring her home, much of my energy is poured into being Mom. While this job is an absolute blessing, I easily lose sight of taking the time to write down what I notice and capture the words my soul aches to write. Thank you for sharing your story and for continuing to be mindful and vulnerable as an author who influences many.
Thank you so much for posting this! Sometimes it feels like my dreams have been stomped to bits. All I ever wanted to do was get married, have children, and write novels. But no husband has come. At 51, I’m too old to have children. And I’m too busy trying to make a living on my own to finish writing my first middle-grade novel. Constant struggle and discouragement can make the fire of our dreams die. Thank you for igniting that spark again for me.
Rachel, this post spoke to my soul in a way I can’t even describe – you gave me chills! My story is so similar to yours – I grew up with notebooks full of stories and written words, but I never thought I was good enough to do anything about it. I am currently a special education teacher pursuing my dream of writing full time, and I absolutely still have many moments of feeling “not good enough.” THANK YOU for these words today!
What do you do when you don’t have a dream? I’m looking for more but I don’t know what that is. I’m 45 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and it saddens me. I’m envious of those that know what they want to do and then do it. Or try to do it.
Leah, you are not alone (45 this year). The dreams I remember having as a young child I am no longer physically able to do. I have yet to find something that fuels my dreams. We’ll find it one day.
Thanks Bridget. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.
As I read your words, I see the little girl who was so joyful and creative and had such big dreams peeping around the corner at me, shyly and perhaps fearfully too, and I hear her thinking “Really? Is she talking about me?”
As an adult my most important role and privilege now is to be the best wife and mother I can be. But that little girl that I used to be is peeping round the corner, and I want to reach out my hand to her, to embrace her, to sit with her, to acknowledge her and her dreams. But I am so scared! I don’t now how to do it and I am so scared of failing somehow. I read the other way that sometimes the thing that scares us most is the thing we are most meant to do, but my fear seems to paralyse me!
Roy Robbins says
Rachel, thanks as always for your words. Today is my birthday and I am 60, today my father in law also passed. I’m filled with earthly sadness, but heavenly hope. From here on out this day will always be bittersweet. My wife and I have been married 37 years so Virgil has been in my life over 40. We will all miss him.
After reading your post today, I thought of my granddaughter Kira who so loved her Grandpa Virg. We will have to tell her this evening and it is going to be sad. However, I took time to write her a short note encouraging her to continue to dance, sing, and be the “lover of souls” that she is.
Thanks for all you do and for being who you are.
Leah @ The Frugal South says
Every time I read what you write, I think my heart opens a little more. And I cry… lots. In a good way! So never doubt that your writing matters, because it matters to me. Thank you for the honesty and encouragement. I’m glad you never gave up and are sharing your gift with a world that needs it.
I wish, wish, wish I knew what my dream was… Or what I want to do next for a career, when my girls are a bit older. When my youngest starts kindergarten, I would love to start working part-time again, at least while my girls are at school. I have been praying and waiting for “it” to come to me, but I guess it is not time yet. I’m impatient to know – I feel utterly directionless not knowing. Thank you for writing this, and for everything you write! I gain something from every single piece of yours that I read. Thank you so much for sharing your gift with the world.
Rachel, thank you for writing this. A million thank yous. I’ve followed your blog for a long time, eagerly awaiting each notification of a new post, because your words sing to me. I’ve been brought to tears before by your writing. But your words today moved me so deeply, that I felt absolutely compelled to tell you what a lifeline this is for me. For too long I’ve been lost and trying to find my way back to the girl who used to spend all her time filling notebooks with story after story, staying up late to simply write. I’ve allowed life to get so far in the way that I’ve been doubting I could ever be that girl again. I’ve let myself believe that I don’t have anything worth saying anyway. I’ve all but given up on my dream. But you have given me hope. I still don’t know how I can accomplish my dream and what it will take to make it come true. But thanks to you, I feel like I can believe again.
YES!!! Thank you. 2016 is the year!! After the loss of his mother and a miscarriage, my husband and I decided to go to counseling and find the best US together. We are on a mission to not let the modern, fast-paced world stifle our dreams through the daily stresses it throws at us. There is time. I recently had an ah-ha moment that I want to be a writer! I’m a historian, but focus on the research and just get to work with the eccentric writers. 🙂 But, I want to be an eccentric writer myself! And combine my passion for unearthing history with good storytelling. My first book has already popped in my head and been percolating. But, taking the time to actually put it on paper has been another story. I plan to embrace your idea of giving up TV (or maybe social media) so I have the time to write. What you write here just motivates me more!!
your words, as ever, find me at the perfect time. This post has come to me when I am stuck between an unsatisfying 8am-4pm, Monday to Friday job and pursuing a passion that will leave me more time for all the things I love. Seems like an easy jump to make, but there are other factors at play. Your words have given me strength to take the leap. Thank you endlessly for sharing your strength and insight.
Much love and light 🙂
Everything you write always comes at the perfect time! I’ve always wanted to sing & write/ blog. I started writing poems & songs when I was probably 12 or 13 I’m almost 37 lol. You’re words always mean so much to me, but this article had me in tears. It’s amazing how fear can paralyze us and we give up on something before we even begin. THANK YOU for writing this and reminding me to believe in myself!!! ?
Dear Rachel, Your words spoke straight to my heart. Living my dream seems so far away when you are so preoccupied with just getting through each day and existing. Reading your writing gave me hope! It never is too late. God bless you and I pray that you touch many people with your words.
Caroline McGraw says
What a gorgeous, gorgeous post – well done, Rachel. I especially appreciated the reminder of what writing success looks like: moving ONE person, getting ONE “Me too!”.
You know my dreams already, but here are a few of them in response to your question. In addition to the main dream of sharing stories that resonate, I would like to see my blog, A Wish Come Clear, grow to a wider readership – ideally 3,000+ readers by June 2016.
Moreover, I would like the book I’m currently writing to be published; to partner with a literary agent and a publishing house; to do a speaking tour and meet readers; to have my main job description be “making books”. As a child, I thought that would be the coolest job in the world, and I still feel that way as an adult. 😉
Rachel, I have never forgotten what you said to me when I came to see you on your Hands Free Mama book tour. I wrote about that experience here: http://awishcomeclear.com/blog/2014/02/one-question/
“I love meeting my favorite writers in person, going to talks and signings. Mostly, it’s great fun. But it’s also challenging, because I always carry this fierce longing. I always ache, wondering: Will this dream of authorship ever come true for me?
As Rachel and I conversed in person for the first time, I congratulated her on her success. Without missing a beat, she said, ‘Thank you! And I’ll be there when it’s your turn.’ In other words, ‘I’ll be at your book signing, cheering you on when your time comes, because honey, it is coming.’”
Thank you for the timely encouragement. I’ve been thinking “jump in, jump in, jump in” for the last few weeks and this is pushing me more towards writing out what I need to do, step by baby step, to touch my dream. Here goes…
My dream is to open (without debt) a fine and performing arts studio that’s dedicated to proclaiming Christ. Additionally, it would support a ministry in India that rescues children from slave labor and sex trafficking, providing them with nourishment, education, and a place for healing.
Kelly Moore says
I retired from teaching a year and a half ago with a deep sense of God calling me to do something else. I have a tremendous desire to write and still feel that God will use me in that way as I write on my blog and work on several children’s books and other projects. I love public speaking and continue to pray for opportunities to speak to groups both big and small about Living Love as a lifestyle. God is doing amazing things in my life right now and I am so humbled and so thankful. After I retired I started a ministry called Paint & Praise. I teach an art class where my students create a beautiful 16 x 20 painting. I know this is a big thing right now in many areas of the country. But Paint & Praise is different. I design each painting to go with scripture that God has laid on my heart. I write a Bible study that goes with those scriptures and we go through the Bible study as we paint and fellowship together. God gave me the opportunity to print Christmas cards from one of my most popular paintings this year. About 1000 cards were purchased and sent to friends and family around the world! My goal is to find a professional card company that will accept my card into their line. Oh how God has blessed. Over 1000 men and women have painted with me over the past 18 months. Over 1000 Gideon New Testaments have been donated from Paint & Praise to be distributed to school age children. I just want to do more, serve more, share more, and love more as I share and paint with churches and other organizations across the country. Any suggestions, encouragement or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Praise be to God.
Beth Blake says
Hi Rachel, I hope this doesn’t sound too weird. The magic thing about your writing is while reading this and other things you post, you make me feel as if we are the oldest and dearest of friends, sitting on the front porch on a summer evening and you are giving me big sisterly advice while we drink lemonade and watch the kids playing tag in the twilight. I have been inspired so many times by your posts. They have influenced me in so many ways. Yesterday at church I was teaching a class of 14-15 year old girls. The lesson was on how we can come to know God better. Partly because of your influence, at the start of the class I invited each girl to share something about their week. After they were done talking, I looked them square in the eye and told each of them how I had come to know God better because I know them. It was such a special moment to tell each girl something divine I saw in them. Thank you for your posts. They help me more than you know.
Rachel Stafford says
Oh Beth, this is a beautiful description of how my writing makes you feel. I don’t think I could think of a better compliment. Thank you also for sharing the beautiful moment you & God created with those 14-15 year old girls. I am sure each one of those girls took something away from that moment where you wanted to SEE them, HEAR them, and KNOW them. I am inspired.
It is time indeed! The last couple of weeks I am growing to be more me in huge steps. I don’t know why, I guess it’s time. Yesterday I posted in a facebook-group about my most recent step in this journey. It didn’t get much reactions. I felt somewhat lonely and started to believe my inner critic a bit more.
This morning I reminded myself that everything is a wonderful lesson. So I learned to keep listening to myself and believing in my soul. Social media is harsh in this way, it is personal in one way and very non-personal in another way. It isn’t a real relationship and I must keep that in mind. While realizing this, I read your article and was so comforted by what you wrote and so uplifted! It is time to take the next step and the next and the next! I am looking forward to it.
I am a noticer too and I am so happy that you are such a loving mother that gives room for this and supports it wherever she can! That is such a beautiful and wonderful thing to do!
#itstime … I don’t know for what yet … I’m still trying to “find” myself, but I love your call to action! And I love your blog … it gives me hope to be a better mom and person each time I read it!
Sandie Heckman says
Rachel – A friend of mine introduced me to your blog yesterday. She specifically sent me this article, and you friend couldn’t have been more dead on if I had written it as my own biography! I am a single mom with an older daughter, she’s in her early twenties. I too have a passion for writing! As I filled out the top portion of this reply, I realized I do not have a website just a blog on wordpress, but I still have a place where I put my writing that I share. This will change very soon, as I challenge myself to put together a webpage that will be linked to my new 2016 life opportunities that I will be soon be stepping into.
2016 is my year – and all things are possible! As I write this I am on my 3rd week of post operative care for a total hip replacement. I am finding my way and have endured countless hours of pain, and this time of healing is parallel to 3 years ago when I had my knee replaced at the exact time. This particular time in my life was when I found God. I’ve grown up quite a bit, and the 8 year old child still remains intact, as I find my way and see my new life, this year 2016 being laid out in front of me. I can finally have hope that I will walk pain free this year, and the possibilities are endless.
I have worked with homeless and human trafficking victims for the past 3 years, struggling to get here and there with a bum hip and knee. Well, all of this has changed and I’ve come to realize, YES I NOW CAN!
Your story is a story of inspiration, walking through life proud and as I read it to my daughter last night, I spoke of how proud I am of her. I told her anything is possible, the world is filled with possibilities. My daughter has watched me rise up after an abusive marriage, and the end result of this rising up is phenomenal.
Like you, I love to write, I give out these inspirational stories and devotions to the homeless and human trafficking victims lifting them up, one person at a time. It’s not quantity, it’s quality of spending time with these beautiful lives.
You opened up a whole new window in my mind by sharing this story. I’ve smothered an idea for over a year about a coffee shop I want to open up.
This coffee shop will employ homeless people, young teens who are living in poverty and give them both a chance to thrive. As I read your story yesterday, the entire blue print for this coffee shop ran through my mind. Coffee shop/printing shop/book store all with a Christian theme. To be able to help my community to thrive and allow those less fortunate to get off the streets, has always been my dream.
The dream is coming alive today. I am going to start speaking to others about this plan and putting it into action. I will be 56 years old in 2 weeks, and the time is now. I am opening up a whole new world of possibilities in 2016, and nothing is going to stop me!
Never underestimate the power of words. They are liquid emotion set to a pace only the reader can see in their mind, and to challenge one person or change one person’s heart, is beyond beautiful – it’s all I need to do before I leave this earth. Well, this and watch my beautiful daughter thrive.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story – because you pushed forward without doubt, you are a game changer for many who are touched by these words. Keep writing, because even if you change one life by one story, that life will trickle through many as they spread the word of what they have read. You are a link in a chain that can lead to many lives being changed, just by the words you write.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful life!
Rachel Stafford says
Sandie, the world just got brighter, more hopeful, and more loving because now I know you are here — your experiences, your heart, your dream, they are beautiful and inspiring. PLEASE keep us posted on your coffee shop. I want to come there someday and give you the biggest hug for being YOU!
If you’re still looking for resources, our community has a coffee shop that employs homeless teens. Here is their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gathering-Grounds/574849372556784?ref=hl and the founding company is MyHouse: https://www.facebook.com/MyHouseMatSu/
Best of Luck! #ItIsTime
Words and affirmations are so powerful. How I wish each child in the world grew up with words of love in their heads instead of limiting words of hate. It would make a huge difference.
Brenda Colyer says
Wow, Rachel!!! Look at you go!! You are doing awesome work and it is great to see all that you have accomplished. Keep forging on! The impact you are having on the lives of others is immeasurable. I remember the Rachel who was just launching her Hands Free platform, writing and working out on the elliptical at the same time. Writing, writing, always writing!! 🙂 Thank you for all your encouraging words!
Rachel Stafford says
Oh Brenda, this just makes my ENTIRE week to hear from you!! What I wouldn’t do to attend one of your workout classes. I have yet to find anyone as fabulous as you! Thank you for the kind words. It means a great deal to me. Many blessings to you and your amazing children!
Well this all sounds really nice and to tell the truth I constantly feel something pressing on my mind- my dream? I’m not sure even what my dream is! I’m the most indecisive person and I don’t think I would realize what I want if it knocked on my door. I’m also terribly sleep deprived and the only thing I can think of answering to your beautiful post is ” I want to go to sleep!”
Now that I am actually commenting, let me ask this because I love to analyze such things to death. If one’s dream is to do a physical thing because and I’m quoting ‘life wouldn’t be worth living’ then what happens when it really is impossible (for any reason). Then one may as well just die.
So now I’m waking up my brain cells and I will say this. There are dreams and there are dreams. I like to write. I like to draw. Those aren’t my dreams though.
My dream is to always be needed and valued as I am. My dream is to always value and respect others as they are. To try and help my friends and family when they need it. To imbue into my children the things that I value, so that they should value those things above all else. My dream is to love and be loved. To have an open mind, but not too open that others thinking should influence mine. To be a good friend. To be a good mother, to have excellent relationships with each of my children. To recognize even at the most trying times that G-d runs the world.
And on and on.
That said, you write really well:)
Mandy Shafer says
I’ve been sitting on a dream for over a year now. Your words are so encouraging, I feel even more driven to start writing. Thank you for sharing, I needed it!
Rachel, this post just changed my life. A storm of energy has been swirling around me and there’s more to come. This helped me channel it. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years, bought my friend your latest book, and have an only love today bracelet. I know with confidence you will hear more from me and hear and have faith that we will be in touch often and maybe even share blog posts with each other as my friend first, me second, have been feeling called to write. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Rachel Stafford says
I love this so much, Stephanie. I feel that same fiery determination in your words that I see in Avery’s eyes. I will be looking forward to hearing more from you!
Rachel, it never ceases to amaze me how you write things that I think but don’t say. The thoughts I sometimes push aside. You brought tears to my eyes today. I guess I could say life has gotten in the way of pursing what I enjoy so very much. There are 2 things I love to do. One is to help dogs and to … just love them. The ones that have been passed by, neglected or mistreated .. or lived to be old and became unwanted by their owners. It’s a passion of mine. To help the ones I can through spending time with them which has included volunteering and working with some that are considered challenging behaviors. Don’t misunderstand me I am by no means an expert at this but it is something that has much meaning and so much more comes back to me than I put into it. I’ve spent a lot of time learning from those I consider experts. It’ hard to describe as I don’t have your beautiful gift of words. But I think you know what I mean. As life is these days I haven’t been able to pursue this and I MISS IT so MUCH. Someday we will be able to get a dog(s) again. This is the first time ever we haven’t had a pet in our life. I would also like very much to foster dogs so that they can be given the 2nd chance in life that they so rightly deserve.
The 2nd thing I enjoy is making quilts to donate to those in need of a quilt. Whether it is an impoverished child, an adult who needs to know that somebody cares or a non-profit organization that could use it to raise awareness and funds for their organization. I’ve done this a bit in the past but not as much as I would like. I’m blessed because currently I am able to work on a quilt for a child. It is the first quilt I’ve been able to work on for far too long. I also toy with the idea of making quilts to sell but money, time and finding the right market of folks who appreciate and are willing to purchase a homemade quality quilt has evaded me. Or have I allowed it to? They can be purchased in a department store for less than what it costs me to make one not to mention the amount of time that goes into one.
Hi Rachel! I am happy to say a dear friend of mine shared your blog with me! It keeps me inspired to reach my dream, one that I finally have in motion. I am a 42-year-old mom of two children with a husband that travels weekly. I work full-time and struggle with managing it all while being what is considered “a good mother” -although I cannot live up to Pinterest’s standards:). But I am being.the best that I can be to my children; my family. And I discovered I could do it all when I discovered myself. After years of filling my bank account with a decent paycheck, I started filling my heart with my love of writing. I launched my blog She Emerges. It is a women’s lifestyle and inspirational blog that shares my journey – emerging from the shadows of life’s responsibilities into the woman I have always wanted to be. And every time I share a post, it is a crazy good feeling. Knowing its out there for the world to read. My ultimate dream is to be published one day–and when I see your accomplishments I taste the dream even more. Because #itstime! Thank you for providing a guiding light to many others…to help us cross the bridge to our reality. I truly appreciate the insight to pursue my dream and the inspiration to keep charging forward.
Miriam Jessie says
Emailed this link today – loved it. Love your message. Continue being a bright and shining light we all need these words of life x
You talked straight to my heart and soul. When I see a new post from you on Bloglovin.com I always stop what I’m doing and read it. You inspire me to be the person I want to be. Thank you for sharing your dream. Thank God for your words.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for your loving support and uplifting blessings. They mean everything.
Thank you so much for maintaining this blog and penning great books, for writing from your heart, for baring your deepest and darkest for us all to experience with you, and for making your readers feel that we are not alone. I am reading this blog entry and feeling the words in my bones! I have recently decided that I WILL follow my dream. My dream, although it might not change the world, is to start a business with my best friend. That’s it, that’s all I’ve got so far. No solid ideas, no directions, but we will do it, whatever it may be 🙂 Thanks for providing some encouragement and a place for me to share my dream!
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