Tangible Dreams

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My feet and Rattlesnake Ridge, WA

There’s something beautiful about tangibility.

Call me a romantic, but I love the feeling of feeling.

I love getting ink on my fingers while I’m thumbing through the NY Times. I love pounding down the keys of a vintage typewriter. I love running my fingers over the hand tooled leather of my favorite bag, or turning the pages of a vintage book.

There’s just something about being able to touch and feel, that makes things more real.

Yesterday, I got an acceptance letter to the University of Orleans, in France. I was excited beyond words to get the email, but I couldn’t help slightly mourning that I wouldn’t be able to rip into the letter when it arrived in the mail. That being said, I’m so extremely excited, I think I can overlook missing the experience.

And anyway, next week I’ll have a scan of the original acceptance letter, and I fully intend on running through the streets waving it like a child high on 4th of July parade candy. It shall be glorious.

Getting into the university I wanted comes with a lot of emotions – something my Norwegian roots are not used to and, frankly, have no idea how to process.

Mainly, because this is the first time I’ve really wanted to get into a university. Most of my life my parents have decided which school I would go to, and I’ve never questioned their decision-making. Even the college I went to for my BA was the same one my brother and mom graduated from.

Applying to the Université D’Orleans was the first independent choice in my education, and it feels wonderful. Think kid riding their bike without training wheels for the first time: completely thrilling, mildly terrifying and ridiculously liberating.

I’ve wanted to study abroad since I can remember. But when I was in college, it was ridiculous to even think about. Since I was on an accelerated track for graduating, there was the issue of time (I was only at the university for two years, instead of four), and there was also the huge issue of financial accessibility.

My school promised to match the tuition being spent at their campus, but since that would still have been about $40,000 (without scholarships) and with an added cost of living expenses in Europe, it was just not plausible.

So I tucked that dream away. And, honestly, I forgot about it. I forgot how much I wanted to study abroad when I was in college. How weird is that? A teenager who wants to go to school as much as possible. But every time one of my friends would announce that they were going off to whatever country they were planning on studying in, I remember being slightly ridiculously jealous.

Now, in the true nature of my life, I’m finding a roundabout way of accomplishing a dream that has unexpectedly resurfaced out of nowhere. Normality doesn’t run in my timeline.

God looks at my plans and says, “Haha. Yeah – how about this, instead?”

And the thing is, it’s always so much better than what my plans were, or could have ever been. Here I am getting ready to study at a university for an entire year, instead of only a semester. Rather than amassing more debt than I can ever pay off, I’m getting paid while I’m studying. AND I get to live with an amazing French family the whole time. Call it cliché (French word – woot!), but I feel so blessed right now.

Even though this whole process has been/is going to be filled with ups and downs, stress and hard work, laughing and crying, it’s one of those mountains that’s worth climbing in order to reach the amazing view.

Although it might not be the way I had it planned (there’ve been a few more rocks and potholes on this trail than I had anticipated), I’m learning that, sometimes, it’s the unconventional paths that reward us with the greatest experiences.

Intangible and seemingly impossible dreams can (and do) become tangible realities. Sometimes, you just have to find a different way of climbing.

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ 

Isaiah 55:8-9

Yesterday’s Ceiling

Sequim, WA
Sequim, WA

Today I quit my job.

And after letting those words sink in a bit, I feel ready to cry. In case you were wondering, I have the perfect job; amazing family, amazing hours, great kids and great pay. Most people would think I was insane to leave, and right about now I’m starting to feel the same way. I think nauseous would be the word for the day.

All of the above being said, I think it’s important to state that there is a difference between feeling sick about a decision, and feeling uneasy. If I, at all, felt uneasy about leaving my job, I wouldn’t. I would stay put until I was forty and the last kid had graduated from college. But I don’t. And I’m not sure whether I’m happy or mad that I’m being led somewhere else.

In life there are always those “vitamin” decisions that you have to make. The choices that taste like crap and you have to half choke, half gag, down. But you do it anyway, because you know that they’re important and will make you stronger in the long run.

But, of course, being the brat I am, that doesn’t mean my soul can’t be furious. Although I know that moving is the right thing, and that it’s better for my future, even though I’ve dreamed about this my whole life, and I’m more excited than words can say, I’m still (for some unknown reason) livid.

I think it’s because I’m being forced out of my comfort zone. Ha. I didn’t even think I had one of those anymore. But I do. Although, sometimes I think I’m so busy convincing myself that I live on the edge, that I forget that even the edge can become a safety zone.

If only I could clone myself and put one self here, and one in France. Then we could correspond with each other and I’d be able to live out both lives simultaneously. I know that’s ridiculous. But you can’t blame a girl for dreaming.

I’m slowly starting to realize that, as the days go by, and the weeks pass, I’m getting more and more anxious about this transition. Even today, when I was telling my current boss that I would be leaving, I replied to her “That’s so exciting!” with a “Yeah…I guess so.”

It’s hard taking leaps. It’s hard to be someone doing something that no one you know has successfully done. It breaks my heart to know I’ll have to say goodbye to the kids I’ve loved for 2 years. It breaks my heart that I’m going to have to say goodbye to my family for an indefinite amount of time. It breaks my heart that I won’t get to hang out with the same Seattle people that I’ve loved for the past five years. It breaks my heart that I won’t get to play soccer, or go to my church or stop in on old places I used to work.

Basically there’s just a lot of broken heartage right now. That’s not a word. I don’t care.

I will say, though, that tangled amidst the brokenness, there is some excitement for the possibilities of the future. It feels a bit like a blank piece of paper staring me in the face and daring me to write a best selling novel. But maybe that’s what I’m the most afraid of? Messing up a blank piece of paper.

I probably sound like a crazy person right now, but these ups and downs are real talk. Transitions are scary and rugged. They aren’t always beautiful dreams, Pintrest boards and taking French lessons.

But that’s life. We appreciate the ups because we remember the downs.

When I was in India, our motto was, “Yesterday’s ceiling is today’s floor.”

It means what we’re called to today, all the promises and hopes and dreams, risks and pursuits, are only the stepping stools of the promises of tomorrow. We are created to cast off the “okay” and walk forward in confidence. There is so much more for us.

I think I forget too easily that, in the midst of my chaos, I have access to peace that surpasses human understanding; that even when I’m having nervous breakdowns and throwing spiritual tantrums, there’s a still small voice whispering, “Peace, greater things are yet to come.”

Because, ultimately, it’s not in the green pastures and safety nets that we find vitality and calling. It’s when we’ve pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zones and continued to strive for the inheritance of purpose we are called to.

“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” (Colossians 1:11-14)