Courage to Dream

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, ‘How good or how bad am I?’ That’s where courage comes in.”

― Erma Bombeck

That is exactly what I did for years. Upstairs hidden in one of my many sewing boxes is the column in which this quote appears, folded neatly, brown with age. Every so often, I would take it out of my sewing box, unfold it, and at look at it. Then put it away, again. Again.

I’ve tried other dreams. I became a quilter. I stamped cards, created scrapbooks. Those are good things; but not the thing I wanted to do.

I even went back to college at 42 to become a legal secretary, which is what I now do for a living.

But. I have always wanted to be a writer. I have always been a writer to the depths of my soul. Beverly, my hair stylist, said to me a few weeks ago, “It is in you.”

In July 2011, after years of secret longing, I took my dream out of the box. I googled writing groups online and found Word Weavers of Michigan. I got in my car and drove to Russ’s in Grandville and met them, and I continue to meet with them twice a month. I started writing.

Since taking the concrete step of joining a writer’s group, I’ve sold two short memoir-ish pieces, and am about to have a short story published in an anthology. I’ve started blogging as well.

Erma Bombeck died in 1997. I miss her. But I have kept her words of inspiration in my heart all these years. She has influenced me with her writing. She also had a dream and took it out of the box, to the joy, delight, and encouragement of many. I have always wanted to be like her.

She also said, “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

Tonight on The Voice, a 51-year-old woman decided to follow her dream and sing before the judges, even though she has had a lot of success as an actor. Being a singer has always been in her.

It is not too late to take your dream out of the box; to show it to someone else.


What concrete steps are you going to take to make your dreams real?

Art Prize Grand Rapids

Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a wonderful community event which was founded by Rick De Vos in 2009. Art Prize is the largest competition of its kind in the world with over $500,000 in prizes. The public votes for the top Prize ($200,000), along with other prizes. A panel of art critics choses juried awards (top prize $100,000).

Over 1,500 artists from all over the United States and from countries around the world have installed their work in Grand Rapids. See some of the wonderful entries here:

Most of the artists will never win a prize, though some will sell their art. Many artists spend thousands to install their art, and stick around to talk to us about their work. Some people in our community have artists stay in their homes to reduce the cost of participating in Art Prize.

Cynicism has shown up in two forms.

From the public: I know art when I see it, and that is NOT art.

From artists: Uneducated people (meaning those with no art education) cannot really appreciate art or possibly be qualified to judge it.

But Rick DeVos says the purpose of Art Prize is to have a “conversation about art.” Art Prize increases enthusiasm about art and gives many artists a chance to have their work seen by hundreds of thousands. Thank you, Rick DeVos.

Rick Devos Quilt New Image Me

(Me, at the Grand Rapids Art Museum)


I hope you get an opportunity to come and enjoy the conversation.

Spending Ourselves

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Isaiah 58: 9b-12 (The Bible, NIV)

In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan draws our attention to this passage, in particular the phrase, “if you spend yourselves.”

“…we are each given different gifts and talents by our Master. The thing that matters most is how we use what we have been given, not how much we make or do compared to someone else. What matters is that we spend ourselves.”

Do we spend ourselves in cynical bitterness, in anger, in self-gratification, in getting?

Or do we spend ourselves for the sake of others?

Do we sow mercy, love, kindness, faith?

I have spent too much of my time on this earth standing in cynical judgment. Action is required in the effort to move away from cynicism. Lord, help me. Time to get moving.

Setting Traps

When I was first married I decided that I wasn’t going to set a trap for my husband by using his ability to remember my birthday, anniversary, etc., as evidence of his love for me. For the most part, I have avoided this by making sure that he knows when these events are coming up. We then plan how to celebrate together. I also keep track of his birthday.

However, I did set a trap for him in retrospect for our 24th wedding anniversary. 2009 was a very hectic time for us. Our anniversary is in June, and along with preparing for our daughter’s graduation open house, we also attended several other open houses and weddings.

In July, I realized that my husband had forgotten our anniversary and I was very upset about it. How could he do that???? Didn’t he love me?

Then it hit me….I had forgotten, too.

We also forgot to get the cat fixed in time, and we have two additional cats to show for it.

We set traps when we decide in advance how we are going to be offended. Do a quick search of the internet using the words “Things to Never Say.”

  1. 10 Things to never say to a woman
  2. 5 Things to never say to parents of children with disabilities
  3. 23 Things you should never say to a childfree woman
  4. 8 Things to never say to a dog owner

Etc., etc., etc.

Wouldn’t it be better to decide in advance to forgive others?


32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, the Bible.