Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Old Dreams and New Dreams

Everyone, welcome back Melissa Tagg! And Happy Halloween tomorrow--or Happy Fall if you don't celebrate it! Take it away, Melissa!

I’ve written about the main characters in my debut novel, Made to Last, quite a few times around the blogosphere. Miranda and Matthew—I sorta love them. Okay, I really love them. And Blake, too. I love him so much I gave him his own book, which comes out next spring.

But I haven’t written as often—or possibly at all—about one of the book’s side characters: A guy named Jase.

Jase was one of those subplot guys who sneaks up on you. Writers know what I’m talking about. We may not actually all that fully plan out the character’s role in the story, but once he waltzes his way onto the page, we discover he has a history and maybe even a little story arc all his own.

Thus, Jase.

Jase is the brother of my hero, Matthew. Turns out he went down to Texas a few years ago, acted as visiting art professor at a college and came home a semester later with a wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Cee, is deaf—a result of meningitis—and is part of my hero’s motivation. See, a whole backstory that just sort of ambled its way into existence as I wrote. (AH, I love being a writer!)

Anyway, there comes a point about two-thirds of the way through the book when Matthew finds out Jase is facing his own sort of mini-crisis. The photo gallery he opened in Minneapolis is going under. Financially, it’s not supporting his soon-to-expand family anymore. So he’s closing up shop and going back to teaching. And as he tells Matthew about his family’s upcoming changes, Matthew starts thinking…about how Jase was letting go of one dream, his gallery, in order to support his new dream, his family. The mental journey had all sorts of implications in Matthew’s own life.

I never really expected that scene in the book to affect Matthew—or frankly, me—so much. But it did. Because suddenly I was thinking back on my own life. On dreams and how they’ve changed and how they’ve stayed the same. On how sometimes we have to let go of an old dream in order to make room for a new one.

And here’s the point in this post when we take a little back step to one of the more un-fun seasons in Melissa’s life:

I had this dream once I was pretty certain about. Things were working out. It seemed right. That is, until the year everything changed. Oh. My. Word. I was not a fun person to be around that year. That dream was slowly ripped away, and life became an emotional roller coaster that I pretty much wailed my way through. I put on a good face now and then, but the people who knew me best saw through pretend happy Melissa. Honestly, I’m a little amazed they stuck by me through my pouting!

But I will never forget the day I decided to let go. Finally. Completely. No more white-knuckled grasp on a thing I knew God was saying “no” to. And here’s the verse that buoyed my hope that day:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” –Isaiah 43:19

Doesn’t that verse just set your mind spinning with awesome could-bes and might-bes? I love it. But it’s even better when you go back and read it in context. I love how The Message paraphrase puts it:

This is what God says,
    the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
    who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
    they lie down and then can’t get up;
    they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
    —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
    rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
    the people I made especially for myself,
    a people custom-made to praise me.

So. Good. But did you catch that part about forgetting what’s happened, not going over old history? I don’t know that we actually forget-forget. But we do choose where to focus our thoughts. We choose whether to be present today, focused on whatever new dream has replaced the old one. Or maybe we don’t know what our new dream is yet, but just thinking about what it might be…that’s fun. That’s the stuff of hope and excitement and newness.

And the crazily cool thing is, when we really believe God is at work, constantly doing something new in our lives, always with a plan and a purpose, it gets a little easier to let go. A little easier to move on. And a little easier to trust that it’s going to be worth it.

Have you ever had to let go of a dream? How did you move forward? Do you have a new dream now?

Here's what Made to Last is all about!
Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?


  1. I love this, Melissa (hi, Jess!). I think we all experience times in life where we're asked to give up things we truly want or the long-hoped for dream is surrounded by trying circumstances. Unfortunately, we sometimes experience several times like this in life! Focusing on God's promises is the only way to go. :)

    1. You're so right--focusing on God's promises. What's funny to me about me is that even though I can look back and so clearly see those times when it was best to let go, I still sometimes have trouble letting go...even though I know, deep down, it's for my own good. Guess sometimes some lessons take a few go-rounds to sink in. Haha! :)

  2. Great post. I actually gave up my writing dream for a year. I felt like God was telling me that it had become toxic. It had become more about proving myself to other people rather than being obedient to him. After almost of year of no writing, I got an email that someone wanted to contract an old submission I'd sent. God reopened the door for me after I had fully handed it over to him.

  3. Oh, ministered to my weary soul today. Yes, I've had a dream. For 20+ years, I 've had THE DREAM. Years in the desert; years when it rained. And it's like Julie said...sometimes, stuff doesn't happen until we fully hand it over to God. Completely. I'm still learning that.

    Thank you for being the beacon I needed today, friend.

    (Hello and hugs to you, too, Jess!)

    1. I'm so glad you found this post encouraging, Cynthia. Writing that scene with Matthew and Jase really did impact me so I'm glad it touched you, as well. I'm sorry that your soul is weary, though...praying for refreshment, friend!

  4. Two of my faves in one place. Happy day! :)

    It's funny how our plans for ourselves changed. My original plan and dream had me becoming a mom years ago. But God had different plans...if I'd had kids then, I might not have started writing again. And that's become a huge new dream...or one that I picked up again (I always dreamed about it when younger, then kind of gave it up and then came back to it). It's still a dream to be a mom, though. So I guess for me, it's not been about new dreams so much as new timing...God's, which is the best.

    1. You're right--sometimes it's not so much about old and new dreams as it is our timing versus God's timing. Oh my goodness, I feel like that's one of the things God has hammered into me SO much in the past few years--the awesomeness and trustworthiness of His timing. And of course, we've talked about this...and about God sorta doing a slow stripping away of my need to plan and arrange things on my time. Not that I don't constantly have the urge to figure everything out...but I'm that we're learning together.

  5. What a great message. I don't know if it was a dream, exactly, but 11 years ago the way I thought my life was going to be, suddenly wasn't, and I mourned that change for a long time. Now I realize that my life has turned out better, because of that change. Thank God for new things!

    1. Isn't that so often the case? Something that seems so BLAH (or much worse than blah) at the time turns out to be something we're thankful for in the long run. That's definitely the case with the scenario I alluded to above.


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