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How big is your dream?

I don’t know about you, but the end of the year is when I’m primed for planning. I want to lay out my goals and hopes for the coming year, and I get excited about things like calendars and journals.

This year, my planning passion is in overdrive, because I am feeling a particularly intense anticipation for the next year. For the first time in years, I am opening my heart and mind to new possibilities. We can go into the whys another time, but for now, simply know that I’m feeling that tingle God spoke about in 1 Samuel.

And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.

Now, what God intended to do in that circumstance involved taking Eli’s family to the proverbial shed. But for me, when my Father tells me that he has ideas that will make me tingle, I hear in his voice excitement and anticipation, not unlike a little one so revved up about Christmas morning that she can’t quite sit still in her seat. Something good is going to happen!

While most of my personal planning has to do with books and promotion and marketing, our ministry is also looking forward with hope, and that’s really what I want to chat about today. For the nearly three years in which the Community Chaplain has been in existence, we’ve been trying to follow the calling of God, wherever that is. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that the Lord has not delivered an outline to our email inboxes, laying out what he is asking us to do over the next months. No, his calling is daily, and it can change from hour to hour.

Is all that variety stimulating? Uh, sure. . . I guess. It definitely is teaching us to rely on God and not on schedules or plans. I believe this is also showing us a new way forward for Christ’s church, which over the centuries has transformed from a community of followers, trying to live together in love and in support of the mission of Jesus, to a network of institutions that demands things like mission statements, programs and a certain inflexibility that borders on intolerance.

We learned early on that God did not want our ministry pigeonholed into one particular niche. Clint ministered in nursing homes and senior living facilities . . . but that isn’t the entirety of his work. He also helps to plan and plant and maintain and labor in the Community Garden. And he works with sex offenders who have recently been released from prison. And he does funerals and weddings and baptisms, as needed. And he offers help and counseling to those struggling in the wake of loss. But we’re not a senior ministry, a prison ministry, a feeding the poor ministry . . . we are a pastoral ministry that just happens to encompass all those things.

Beginning late last year, though, we began to feel a tugging on hearts to dream bigger. We submitted a video to Chip Gaines’ contest about big dreams, and while that didn’t end up leading anywhere, we didn’t stop dreaming. Through a year that has been the most financially challenging of our lives, we still kept stoking the flames on that dream. And although nothing has changed in the outside world to lead us to believe we’re moving forward, inwardly we know that God’s call is stronger than ever.

Here is how we’re praying for this dream:

  • We’re asking God to provide land and a home on that land. We don’t know how this will happen. At this point in time, our savings are about $-2000. Yes, that’s a negative sign–we don’t have any savings at all, and we’re consistently under our needs for basic living expenses every month. So we’re not about to go marching into a bank and ask for a mortgage. This land–this home–will have to come in a way we cannot even fathom right now.
  • We’re asking God to open our eyes to ways we can move forward to claim that dream–whether it’s a job to help us get by, or a new way of doing things that will ease our current burdens, or talking to someone who has the wherewithal to see things we cannot.
  • We’re asking God to lead the right people around us for this dream. We know that God’s economy is such that if he can benefit four people instead of just one, that’s the plan he’ll put into action. So even though we don’t know who might be part of making this dream reality, we’re praying for those people and asking the Holy Spirit to move them in his time and his plan.
  • We’re asking God to help us dream bigger. The thing is, our God never lets us outdream him. For most people, that’s not an issue–we tend to see the obstacles before the possibilities. <raises hand> But we’re asking God to gently correct us when we’re tempted to look down before we look up.
  • We’re asking God to help us design a new life upon the land that he provides. Yes, we feel called to farm in a sustainable way that will provide food for the needy, but we also feel called to make this place a new center of community. We don’t know for sure what that looks like, but we’re praying for guidance there. And he is providing that!
  • We’re asking God to gather around us the right people to pray with us for this dream, people who will encourage and not scoff, people who will believe and trust along with us.

Why are we feeling led to move in this direction? Many things, not the least of which is the sense of calling Clint feels when he is working in the garden and the fact that despite its relatively minor place in the ministry now, the garden seems to be what brings people together. I am convinced that we all have a connection to the soil and that when we need the call to get back to basics in food, growing and harvesting, we will find a deeper sense of satisfaction in our spiritual and wider lives.

Our daughter Cate is working on a farm, and she is also feeling called in this direction. Her degree in sustainable agriculture would be a beautiful boon to this dream. And seeing all of our family moving toward greater sustainability–that also feels right.

I would be honored if you would join us in praying that God would supply direction, inspiration, provision and detailed guidance to us as we move forward into 2020. Please DO reach out to us with any word God might give you, or simply to let us know when and how the Lord leads you to pray.

We’ll keep you posted. Please also pray for our hope and faith during this time, because it’s easy to lose sight of the dream when the world beats us down.

May 2020 be the year of dreams realized for all of us–knowing that God wants his abundance and fulfillment for us!

{You can reach Tawdra by emailing tjkandle@gmail.com. You can read more about The Community Chaplain on Facebook. If you feel called to donate, you can do so via PayPal paypal.me/TheCommunityChaplain or by sending a check to The Community Chaplain, PO Box 195631, Winter Springs, FL 32719. Thank you!}

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