Calling Dreams to Life in One Another
Another goodbye at the Galloway house today. Our fifth young adult in the last seven years flew back to the US. They come to serve in the background as administrative assistants, home schooling tutors, or in this case, a gap year intern— but they quickly become part of the family. We’ve all become pros at saying goodbye, but it still stinks.
But this year’s experience was a bit different; my kids are older now, so our gap year intern, Brooke Abington was just a year older than our oldest daughter, Karis. We made a slight miscalculation when we agreed to have Brooke; we forgot just how much an 18 year old kid needs peers. As the next youngest person on our team is turning 40— we’re not exactly spring chickens. Not that I’m above becoming BFFs with someone 25 years younger than me, mind you (cough, cough— Carissa Pletcher), but this time I was more of a mom than a friend.
Thank goodness there’s no shortage of girls in our house for Brooke to hang out with. In particular, I loved watching the friendship develop between Karis and Brooke. Both are vibrant young women. Strong leaders. Confident. Loud. Charismatic. Hopeful. Constantly singing. And unashamedly marching to beat of their own drums.
There is something incredibly poignant about watching your children come into the beauty of who they were made to be. The unique personalities. The purity of heart. The hope for the future. The dreams coming to life. At times I literally hurt when I look at my daughters because they are so gloriously made.
Several times over these last few years as I’ve marveled at the beauty of my daughters, God has whispered to me— that was you as a child. That is You now. Can it be possible that we are as beautiful as our dazzling children? Apparently God thinks so.
But I digress… back to Karis and Brooke.
Their lives intersected at a critical moment in life development. So many dreams are in seed form when you are eighteen years old: plans for education, hopes for love, longings to travel and explore, stirrings about how to make a difference in the world.
And experiences and relationships are their classroom at this age. Karis taught Brooke about seeing the world through multiple cultures, but Brooke demystified American high school life with her stories of proms and plays and youth groups. Karis taught Brooke how to be more direct (sorry Abingtons!), but Brooke taught Karis about southern manners. They sang Disney songs and musical show tunes until I begged them to stop. They texted at all hours. They took horrible selfies just for fun. They watched Austenland together on their final evening together.
But in addition to all the laughs and learnings, they became soul sisters. They went to a prayer conference together in Vienna and would have signed their lives away if I had let them. They tentatively shared the whispers they were hearing from God. They fasted and prayed together for a new movement of God’s Spirit leading up to Pentecost. They prayed for healing over each other. They challenged each other.
One of my favorite stories from Scripture is the story of Mary and Elizabeth. Here were two women at very different stages of life. Mary, a young girl, her whole life ahead of her— hopeful, pure of heart, full of dreams. Her cousin, Elizabeth, an older woman, had known deep disappointment because she was childless. Somehow she had made peace with the plan, but the grief was most likely still there.
Mary had just been given an extraordinary revelation that she is carrying the Son of God. To our knowledge, she tells no one at home. Did she wake up the next day wondering whether it was just a dream?
But the angel had dropped another nugget of information, there was someone else growing a God-planted miracle— her aged and hitherto barren cousin, Elizabeth. “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month…”
We are told Mary goes immediately to visit Elizabeth and at the moment her cousin hears Mary’s voice, the baby begins to leap with joy in her womb. In one moment, BOTH women receive confirmation of what God has promised. Mary calls forth life in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth names Mary’s calling saying, “Blessed are you.. the mother of my Lord!” And all they can do is praise and marvel together at God’s plan.
My sculptor friend, Karen Schmidt, powerfully depicts this exact moment where the two women meet. God-promises have been planted. No one else quite understands the magnitude of what is gestating, not family or friends. But God in His kindness gives them to each other to confirm they are not crazy. Their hands rest on the miracles growing within. They celebrate together. They worship together. And they know they are not alone.
We are not meant to gestate our dreams in isolation. We need others, to celebrate the mysterious impregnation, to bear witness of what they see forming, to talk us through the morning sickness, and to pray through the fear when we don’t feel the baby move for a while. And in Mary’s case, she needed a friend before she headed back to what was most likely going to be a life of clucking tongues and disapproving looks.
Our girls are growing God dreams. As parents we have watered and tended the seeds for many years, but now the community of people calling those seeds to life needs to expand to include friends, professors, mentors, maybe even boyfriends (gulp!).
Thank you Brooke, for the life you brought to our home and to our girls this year. And you are not crazy— we ALL see that God has special dreams forming in you too. Can’t wait to see where God takes you from here. God speed.