Seeing Beyond What is to What Could Be

For about a week now, I’ve been teary. It isn’t because something bad has happened or anything is wrong. More, it’s because in the midst of a world of heartbreak, sorrow, pain, and anxiety, there is still hope.

This past week, I’ve seen that hope with my own two eyes and it’s made them leak. A lot.

the hope

We don’t always get to see the hope that floats around us, but over the past few days I did. John officiated a wedding for a precious young couple we’ve known since they were in high school, was honored to remind them just before they made their covenant vows that they already have everything they need in Christ – to love, to serve, and to make a life together.

And then yesterday I sat in a cozy living room with a group of women celebrating our friend who is pregnant with her fourth baby – a baby girl who will have three older brothers. I didn’t make a scene, but the joy took over my face and hijacked my eyes. I’m getting good at wiping away tears without anyone noticing.

Another reason for the joy is this – after years of praying, waiting, and longing for a family dream to come true, it finally has. Remember that event we had last year in November, the one we hosted in a borrowed barn, the one were I got to work with my whole family to encourage people and tell stories and poke-awake the art living inside them?

Well we are having another similar event, this time for writers. And before I had a chance to write a post about it, that event sold out in just a few days. I’ll be doing that with Christa Wells this Saturday.

But this time, we won’t be using a borrowed barn. This time, we’ll be in The World’s Worst Barn on my sister’s property.

Allow me to give you a quick tour:

DSC_5883-550x385Here is the barn when they bought the property. And when I say “barn” you know I mean “exaggerated shed” right?

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Here it is from the inside looking towards the front – dark, utilitarian, kind of mannish. Nothing special, but maybe a bit of potential? Can you see it?

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Ahhh! Windows make all the difference. Now we’re getting somewhere.

It was at this point in the barn renovation a few weeks ago that we decided to host a second event here this fall, one for anyone who wants to slow down, connect, and tackle chronic discouragement that seems to creep it’s way into our homes, families, and souls during the holiday season.

We’re calling it Hope*ologie Live: At the Barn but you don’t have to be a member of Hope*ologie to come. We aren’t interested in hosting a conference or a seminar. We won’t sit in rows or fill in blanks from a screen.

Instead, we’ve saved a seat for you in the living room, to join our family and a group of friends you’ve just met who are sharing the same journey.

So here’s a short little video, courtesy of Dad and his ukelele, inviting YOU to join us on November 15 (email subscribers may need to click over to view):

When you come up the gravel driveway, here’s what you can expect to find included with your ticket price:

  • Hands-on hope for your home: craft-making with The Nester
  • Encouragement toward building a family legacy of hope: conversation with Dad
  • Space to breathe in a breathless world: small group soul-talk with Emily and John
  • Mom’s beans and cornbread dinner (and S’mores of course)
  • Signed copy of Myquillyn’s book, The Nesting Place
  • Signed copy of Emily’s book, A Million Little Ways
  • A digital copy of Gary’s ebook, Scary Hope

Tickets are available now. But before you get too worried that you’ll have to sit on a dusty barrel with only wires and darkness for company, here’s proof that we’re ready for you.

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And one more . . .

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Thankful tears come again, because sometimes my soul feels a lot like that first barn photo – tired, forgotten, and overwhelmed with all that has yet to happen, all the longings that have yet been realized.

But this little building with the new white walls reminds me how there is hope for even the most run-down and tired among us and that sometimes all we need is a little reminder to look beyond what is to what could be.

We are thrilled to finally have a place to gather and offer those reminders. It isn’t perfect but it feels like home. We hope you’ll feel that way, too.

You do not have to be a member of Hope*ologie to attend. Here are the details one last time:

Hope*ologie Live: At the Barn
Saturday November 15, 2014
Midland, NC
2 – 7 pm, bonfire 7 – 8 pm

Designed especially for you – to chase away chronic discouragement
and offer hope for your right-now home, family, and soul.

Hope*ologie Live

I swiped all barn photos from my seestor. She and her husband and their good friend Sean are the miracle workers behind this barn renovation.

Photos From Our Afternoon At the Barn 2013

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

It’s been nearly two weeks since our gathering At the Barn and today is the day I finally get to share with you a peek into our time together. We were a small group on purpose, to keep intimidation low and eye-contact high. We wanted to gather for an afternoon of storytelling, music, conversation, and art. So that is what we did.

All of the photos in this post were taken by Mary Anne Morgan, a kind, thoughtful artist who offered to come document the day for us in what is one of the most generous gifts I have ever received.

Photos might be my love language, and to have her there allowed me to be fully present in the day without feeling like I was missing something. Be kind to photographers, friends. They tell the stories we can’t afford to forget. And Mary Anne? Thank you is too small, but I say it anyway.

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnThe friends and family behind the day: Stacey, Kendra (The Sugar Box baker), Caroline, Jen, Randy, Melissa, John, me, Dad, Mom, Chad, Myquillyn, Reeve, and Jason. Ok. Ready to scroll? Go!

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnView More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnAnother generous artist who donated her time and talent: Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios did the hand lettering for this quote and I printed them out for the barn friends.

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnMy sister did every stitch of the decorations. I love the way she had lovely voice in the room without ever picking up a microphone – her design and creativity spoke whimsy and generosity over everyone who came.

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnView More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnView More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn at the barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn

View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barn View More: http://maryannemorgan.pass.us/the_barnIf it weren’t for Mary Anne, the following four photos taken on my phone would have been about the extent of the barn documentation:

my photos at the barnOh, and of course, this one:

The Sugar Box

If you want another peek into the day from some of the people who came, here are a few posts they’ve written so far:

Lori Harris: Ramblings From a Day At the Barn

Emily Gilmore: At the Barn 2013

Rachel Franklin: In Which We Made Art

Jenny Call: Art and Vulnerability

Theresa Hardymon: Grace Came Down in a Barn

And two women who started their own blogs after the Barn event (!!):

Shawna Anderson: At the Barn

Yuko: Now Let’s Talk About Fear

If you would like to see more photos from the barn (yes, there’s more. I know!) you can visit my Facebook page where I will post them all. And if you have no idea what this barn thing is but would like to know more, it’s basically a gathering my family and I hosted to have a way to talk about the concepts in my book, A Million Little Ways.

Here are  my first thoughts about our gathering last week: Reflections From the Barn. And here are all the post I’ve written about the Barn so far. We hope to do it again in 2014, this time at my sister’s house! Stay tuned for details on that.

Reflections From the Barn

The GranaryI haven’t checked my email in two days.

After the barn, I needed to be still in my soul and checking my email tends to stir things up on the inside for me. So I’ve avoided it and I’m trusting there are no emergencies in my inbox.

The real emergencies never show up that way anyway.

On Friday I wrote a post called This Might Not Work where I shared with you how excitement and risk were doing their work within me  on the eve of doing something I’ve never done before. Today I want to offer you some initial reflections from the Barn, but remember I’m a slow processor so there may be more coming in a later post. You’ve been warned.

***

“One who really wishes to know oneself has to be a restless, fanatical collector of disappointments.”

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

I haven’t read this novel, but I have been thinking for the past week or so about this line I saw quoted from it. I can’t get it out of my mind because I think I completely agree with it.

When I wrote A Million Little Ways it was an attempt to remind myself and hopefully the reader how we have been created in the spectacular image of God, how Christ lives within us, and how he wants to come out through the unique filter of our personality. When we move toward what makes us come alive, when we dare to be who we really are (not who we wish we were instead), art comes out.

I set out to somehow poke-awake the sleeping soul and I know, at least for some, that is what has happened.

When my family and I sat together in my sister’s living room last May and talked about hosting a small gathering around the subject of my book, I told them I wanted it to simply feel like a living, breathing chapter one.

I knew better than to expect one afternoon event could cover all I wished to talk about, but I hoped it would at least be another layer of inspiration for those who came – to stir up questions, longing, and life.

As I sat in front of the 80 gathered in that small barn, I watched as desire welled up from the depths, watched and listened as the image bearers brought glory to God simply by being themselves.

But I also saw furrowed brows and tears and heartache because when desire is touched, it releases longing as well as something else.

Fear.

The reason this quote from Mercier comes back to me this morning is because whenever you open yourself up to desire, you must also realize you are now vulnerable to deep disappointment.

Our deepest desires often hold hands with our most profound disappointments. And this can be terrifying.

Which is perhaps why a lot of people choose to avoid desire in the first place.

It takes courage to honestly consider desire in the presence of Jesus. Am I brave enough to acknowledge what I most long for? Am I willing to expose my desires in the light of the love of God? As we begin to uncover the desires we may be reluctant to face, remember the Gospel makes it possible for us to confront whatever we see.

A Million Little Ways

There are many things I’m thankful for in regards to The Barn on Saturday, the first among them being the fact that people came. Kind, gracious, artists came – from close to home (Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem) as well as from far away (Colorado, Texas, New York).  I still can’t believe they came. They came!

And I tear up thinking about what a privilege and honor it was to sit among those who showed up, to serve with my family, to stand with my husband all day long.

So many made the day possible – my sister, my parents, friends, volunteers – and I will share them with you in my next barn post, complete with the most beautiful photos from the day, captured so generously by Mary Anne Morgan (I seriously can’t wait to show you her photos – here’s one:)

john and emily

But for now, I simply leave you with this small, partial thought on what is happening within me and within John as a result of our time at The Barn:

We are building our lives at the intersection of desire and disappointment. We are setting up camp here on the corner, waking up to our own deepest longings as well as our most profound fears. The life of Christ was one of divine courage as well as undeniable weakness. It’s true, He experienced victory over death, but first he had to die alone, enduring the most profound disappointment the earth has ever seen.

As we celebrate our smallness in the presence of Christ, we realize together there is no place else for us to go. And so we simply stay here on the corner, awake to desire as well as fear, inviting others to join us here. At the Barn, they did just that.

This Might Not Work

“At some level, this might not work is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing. And it can paralyze us into inaction, into watering down our art and into failing to ship.”

Seth Godin, from his post Out on a Limb

Since my family and I first started talking about working together to host a gathering of people this fall, the first thing that popped in my head was that this might not work.

We wanted to host an intentional time of story-telling, music, and conversation; a time to poke-awake the art inside you that may be hidden under layers of doubt, discouragement and distraction; a time to connect on a more personal level with one another in a way a larger venue wouldn’t allow.

When we picked a date and began to give details and times to what had  formerly only been thoughts and ideas, it came up again – this might not work.

But you get to a point where having the thing work is less important to you than giving it a try. For me, not trying it at all was a worse fate than trying it and having it not work.

If you could follow that.

emily p freeman books

When people start things, they don’t do it because they are necessarily ready. They don’t do it because they have all the answers to every question or because they have some guarantee of success from an invisible authority.

People who do stuff haven’t figured out the secret to doing stuff. They have simply decided to stop letting the fear of this might not work control their lives.

This might not work is either a curse, something that you labor under, or it’s a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible.” – Seth Godin

at the barn prepAfter years of praying, months of planning, and lots of help, tomorrow we will host our very first gathering At the Barn.

It’s true, it might not work – it might not go as planned, it might not be what I hope it will be, it might not turn out exactly like I want it to.

But we’re doing it anyway. I’ve never been more excited about an event.

December 1 Book Signing

After an extremely busy fall, At the Barn is my last official event of 2013. But I’m pleased to announce I will be doing an informal book signing on Sunday December 1, joining a group of local artisans at their annual Handmade at Home gathering. It’s a great way to support local artists and find unique gifts for friends and family. We would love to have you join us!

  • Sunday December 1
  • 2011 Medhurst Drive Greensboro, NC 27410
  • Drop in 4 – 7 pm (the event starts at 1 pm, but I won’t be there until 4)

Check out the Facebook event page and join if you can come! 

in which I tell you what happened yesterday

Sunday I drove down to Charlotte by myself, straight south down I-85, took the exit right before Concord, headed east for a million years until I pulled up on my sisters land. It’s the first time I’ve been there since they moved their furniture in and I didn’t take a single ding-a-ling picture of her house.

sistersShe took this one of us, though, and you can kind of see a ceiling fan in the background. I know, that doesn’t count as “furniture.” Especially since she’ll be taking that out once she gets the big stuff done. You know, like putting in a kitchen and all.

I was only there a few hours as we had a few things we needed to work on for the Barn event because it was almost time to start selling tickets. She’s helping me with my barn event and when she has hers, I’ll help her, too. I need all the help I can get.

Have I mentioned I’ve never sold a ticket for any thing in my whole life? Except that carnival we had with Missy and Shelly in the backyard when I was in second grade at Smith Elementary School in Columbus, Indiana? And that carnival had rides like Tire Swing: 10 cents! And You can pet our kitten if you give us a nickel. 

Needless to say, I didn’t know what to expect.

Yesterday morning I sent out an invitation to my newsletter subscribers to go ahead and buy their ticket to join us At the Barn in November, planning to open up registration here on the blog today.

And would you know that we sold half our tickets in the first hour?

By dinner time the other half were gone. So today I come here empty handed but also full because you guys!

I’m totally shocked. And thankful. And excited. And terrified because people have paid real, green, legal money and that means we kind of have to actually do this thing.

If you were hoping for a ticket, here are a few things I want to say. Thank you. And depending on how this one goes, we really want to do this again. Sooner than later. If you want to add your name to the waiting list, send an email to join us at the barn at gmail dot com and put waiting list in the subject line.

If you thought you were signed up for the newsletter but you never got an invitation yesterday, it’s possible you are actually only signed up for blog posts which is something different. Blog post emails come to your inbox every time I publish a new post. Newsletters only come monthly and/or when something special like At the Barn comes up.

You will have to go to the last email you got from me with the blog post in it, scroll to the bottom and manage your preferences to check on your status there.

So that’s where we are with the Barn event. Thankful to those of you who are coming, those of you who wanted to come, and those of you who emailed sweet support and excitement.

Update: An Afternoon At The Barn

Since we announced our plans for hosting an afternoon At The Barn in November, I’ve heard from many of you from all over the country (!!) expressing some interest in coming. That was surprising to me since really all you know so far is the background of why the barn – but I haven’t shared much yet about what in the world you can expect if you come.

at the barnFirst, if you are just now hearing about our Barn event, you might want to read this post to learn more about how it all came about.

We are still in the planning stages, and there are also a few things I will keep exclusive for those who attend. But before we invite you to get your ticket, I want to update you a little more on what to expect if you join us in Winston-Salem on the afternoon of November 23.

When my first book came out in 2011, my sister hosted a book release party at her house. It was fantastic – fun, creative, and celebratory – just as a book release party should be. The best part? We had a party, and people came. I realize at least half of those women came simply to get a real-life peek inside The Nester’s house, which was fine by me. It made for a fun celebration, to do it with so many.

We made it a drop-in thing so for the duration of the event, there was always a steady stream of women coming in. All I had time to do was sit at the book table and sign books.

That's me at the book table at my sister's house.

That’s me at the book table at my first book release party.

It was a pretty sweet gig for an introvert, if I’m honest.

Still, once the party was over, I looked back on the day and felt something was missing. People took time out of their day (some driving many hours) just to be there for a short time, eat a couple of mini-cupcakes, get a book, have it signed, and maybe chat with me, my sister, and other women who came – but not for long and not about anything on the soul-level. As fun as all that was, I ended up feeling like they left without being offered much.

I didn’t read from the book, share any behind-the-scences stories, or say much at all besides hurried words while I signed books. There was no community feeling, no shared experience, and no encouragement from the message of the book I wrote. There wasn’t enough time for that and there certainly wasn’t enough room. It was fun and I’m thrilled we did it, but there wasn’t much connection and that’s the part I regret.

That’s a big motivation for this At the Barn event. It isn’t a book release party, although in some ways for me it will serve some of those same purposes.

Our time together At the Barn will be an intentional time of story-telling, music, and conversation; a time to poke-awake the art inside you that may be hidden under layers of doubt, discouragement and distraction; a time to connect on a more personal level with one another in a way a larger venue wouldn’t allow.

In my everyday life, it comes naturally to make excuses, to make fun, to make sure, to make do. I’m learning what it might mean to choose to make art instead.

I don’t think it matters if the work you do is big or small, square or round, obvious or not-so-much. It doesn’t matter if your work is on a canvas of paper, of screen, or of souls. Waking up to your own personal capacity to make art with your work and your life has powerful potential.

That’s the kind of thing I want to talk about on November 23rd – through music and story and conversation, we simply want to show up together and spend a string of moments, a whole afternoon-worth, considering what it might mean to make art with our work and our lives.

It’s a beginning, to be sure. I wrote an entire book on the topic so we can’t cover it all in one afternoon. But I hope to be able to tell some of my own stories and share a bit of background and inspiration about why I believe this kind of art matters.

I’ve written some here on the blog about the vocational transition John and I have been living through over the past several months. If you come to the barn, you’ll hear more specifically from John’s perspective – what it has meant and looked like for him to live like an artist in the midst of insecurity, questions, and uncertainty.

Singer/songwriter Reeve Coobs will be at the barn, sharing her art through music and lyrics.

You’ll have the opportunity to meet my sister and her husband and our mom and dad – to ask your questions, if you have any.

Of course a copy of A Million Little Ways will be included with the price of your ticket.

If that sounds like something you would like to be part of, perhaps you’ll consider joining us At the Barn.

There is no age limit or gender requirement. All are welcome – college student, married couple, single parent – basically anyone who feels drawn to the concept of living life artfully. In keeping with the vision of this event, there will be a limited number of tickets available.

The Details

When: Saturday, November 23 (will announce specific times next week, but basically after lunch until before dinner)

Where: The Granary at WinMock in Winston-Salem, NC

Ticket Price: $49

When can I get my ticket? Starting next Monday, September 16

How to reserve your spot: Tickets will be available to my newsletter subscribers first. (You can sign up here). After 24 hours, we will make tickets available to everyone.

I don’t want to tell you everything about the day, but I hope this little bit of detail gives you enough information to make your plans. And if you are unable to join us this time, I would love to try to do this again.  This will be my last update on the blog before tickets are made available, so if you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or you can always contact me by email. Hope to see you soon at the barn!

Save the Date: Let’s Get Together At the Barn

Remember back in March when I wrote that post introducing you to my next book, A Million Little Ways? And remember how I warned you that it was kind of a long-ish post so maybe if you don’t have time right now to read it, you should save it and come back later with your hot drink and your quiet room?

This is another one of those times.

I’m a little sweaty and a lot excited, because this post is years in the making.

I want to invite you to something. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ve read a few hints about it this summer. Today is the day I’m telling it all. But first I have to tell you a story.

Every year in January or February for as many years as I can remember, my family (John and I, my parents, my sister and her husband) gets together to talk about the year ahead. We have a very fancy and original name for our time together – Goals Weekend.

family photo

The goal of Goals Weekend is simple: get together in one room without distraction, bring your reflections, excitements and regrets about the year before as well as your hopes, plans, dreams and desires for the year ahead. And share them.

Sharing our goals in my living room in January 2009.

Sharing our goals in my living room in January 2009. That was even before we knocked down our wall!

We all write out our personal goals in our own unique way – I tend to type mine, Dad makes charts, and John leans toward a list, thoughtful and concise. My brother-in-law, Chad, does it that way, too.

Myquillyn writes her list in a Moleskine with a colored pen. One year when her kids where still small, one of her goals for the coming year was to take a shower everyday.

I laughed at her at the time because I am thoughtful and respectful of everyone in my family. And also I didn’t have kids yet.

Then four years and twin babies later, I had “shower daily” at the top of my goals list, too.

During our time together, Mom almost always starts us out, reading her list she wrote by hand. My mom, married to a radio announcer who talks for a living, prefers to go first to “get it out of the way.” Talking in groups is not her favorite.

That's me, mom, and Myquillyn last year during a visit to the town where we were born - Columbus, Indiana.

Me and Myquillyn with Mom.

So we all have a little different way of doing things, but we all come to the table as we are and try to accept one another in those places.

There isn’t anything magical about Goals Weekend. One year they all came up to our house just for the day – we got a sitter for the kids for a few hours and chatted in my living room.

We usually make at least one meal together and there is always a chocolate cake.

We usually make at least one meal together and there is always a chocolate cake.

Another year when I was pregnant with our son, we took a road trip to Raleigh during goals weekend, talked in the car and then went shopping for curtains.

Last year we got take-out for lunch and met in the high school room of our old church.

My family all lives in North Carolina so it isn’t as if Goals Weekend is the only time we see each other during the year. But Goals Weekend is important to us because it is a time where we choose to listen intentionally to one another, to be curious, ask questions, and get feedback.

Over many years of doing this as a family, we began to see common threads, a growing desire, and more similarities than differences in our lists of goals. We don’t all have the exact same goal, but there are enough overlapping parts for me to be able to say this:

Our family has a dream.

My Dad said it best on his blog a few weeks ago:

We want to have a small property used for hope, encouragement, and perspective. A place where heaven, earth, and everyday living come together. It’s vague and incomplete, but each of us sees some specific piece.

This hazy dream has been a main topic of conversation during Goals Weekend for the past several years. We would sit in our circle with a chocolate cake in the middle, and after sharing some about our own individual goals, someone would say “So, do y’all wanna talk about the land?”

The land. That what we call it.

On my best days, it feels right. On my worst, it seems crazy.

We all live in different parts of the state. We have jobs in different cities from each other. And property costs money.

But this past year, something happened.

We realized we didn’t want to wait until we had the property to start offering service to people in the form of encouragement and perspective. We realized it may be years before we would find the right property or even be able to collectively afford it. But the things we wanted to do on the property, we wanted to do now.

Waiting can be a type of resistance when you have something you’re passionate about. You imagine something, get motivated to do it, make a few plans. But then you hit a wall because this one part isn’t clear yet or that other part doesn’t make sense yet. And so you wait and imagine and have a long list of if only’s.

And it’s possible that somewhere in the waiting, you begin to realize how nice it is to have a dream but not have to do anything about it.

Maybe you’re waiting because it’s easier than doing the work.

We finally realized we didn’t need to wait for a place to do certain parts of what we wanted to do.

We didn’t need to wait until everything was perfect or set or ready.

We just needed to start.

So we picked a date – November 23, 2013  – and we partnered with my favorite event planner, Melissa Lewkowicz. She worked her magic and found us a venue so we immediately started making plans to invite you to join us for a small gathering here in North Carolina.

That’s when things started to get interesting.

At the end of June, John worked his last day at his old job, freeing us up consider other ways we might want to serve people together. This is a portion of our piece of the dream.

A few months before that, just when we thought we didn’t need property to make this dream happen, Myquillyn and Chad felt like it was time for them to move out of their rental and buy a house – a major step toward their own family vision.

Mom and Dad have their own perspective about what they want to do together and Dad wrote about it on his blog – What failure taught me about dreaming.

My sister is telling the story on her own blog these days, but the bottom line is Myquillyn and Chad found a house. On nearly 13 acres. And they bought it.

the farm

It isn’t exactly how we imagined things would happen. The details and timing are way different so far than we thought they would be.

Still, when I went to their property for the first time, nothing about it surprised me. Yes, this is the place we’ve been praying for. In a way I can’t explain, this property was familiar. As if I had been there before. Except I hadn’t.

I believe God often gives us a vision for things before they ever come into being. This was one of those times for me – this house and property that isn’t even mine was mine somehow – because we’ve partnered together to dream it and pray for it and wait for it together.

The dream existed first in our hearts and then later we found out – oh – it exists in real life too, on the far east side of Charlotte.

calling all hopers, dreamers, questioners, and ordinary people

Maybe you have a dream in your heart, too. Right now, that dream might seem impossible, far off, or just plain crazy. It might be small or huge or some middle mix of both. But there is some piece within it that you can’t let go.

That little spark of hopeful potential you are aware of right now? That’s the part I want to talk to. I want to encourage you to begin to circle around that tiny spark and consider the fact that maybe it isn’t random or selfish or crazy after all. Maybe it’s a whisper from the Spirit of God, trying to get your attention. Maybe it is a hint to your design wanting to wake you up from the inside out, begging you to stop taunting it with names.

Maybe that little spark is there for a purpose, not necessarily because every dream you have will come true, but because recognizing your own desire could be a way of respecting the way God designed you and could even be a hint at how you were made to fully worship him, to bring him glory.

Maybe you desperately fear you have nothing unique to offer the world. But secretly, you hope you’re wrong.

This is what I want to talk about. And I’m terrified to tell you this because I’ve never done anything like this before. Invite people to come to us? Plan it ourselves? Are we nuts?!

But I know this is the next right thing to do and we don’t want to wait any longer. So let’s just see what happens.

Because we decided to do this before we had property, we booked a venue at a beautiful barn in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Want to see it?

This is The Granary in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

This is The Granary in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I mean. Seriously.

I am so thankful for this beautiful place to meet. But one day (maybe even next time) we want to gather with you at my sister and Chad’s place, on the property we prayed for. In fact, today my sister is sharing photos of her barn, The World’s Worst – but of all the different ways we hope to use it in the future. Because these kinds of small gatherings are at the center of how our family wants to offer hope and encouragement to others. Here’s some more information about the gathering in November:

Save the Date – An Afternoon At the Barn

Saturday November 23, 2013

at the barn on november 23Consider this your official Save the Date. You can buy your ticket after Labor Day.

In keeping with our vision to have true connection and meaningful conversation, it has to be small. Less than 100.

As a courtesy and thank you to my newsletter subscribers, they’ll have first shot at tickets. If you want to be among the first to know when registration is open, go ahead and sign up for my newsletter.

I promise I won’t be creepy and share your email with anyone and I also promise I won’t jam your inbox with junk. You will receive one email when registration opens for our Afternoon At the Barn as well as my regular end-of-month update where I share a personal letter I won’t publish anywhere else. You can unsubscribe at any time. Obviously.

I hope you’ll save the date and try to join us in November. We chose this date on purpose because my book, A Million Little Ways, will already be out. I’m thrilled for this opportunity to engage the concepts in the book by connecting with you in a new way – beyond the book or the blog post.

What do you think? Might you try to join us?