Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dream Interrupted

Today I read a post called "When You Don't Know" in which the author talked about having some of her dreams interrupted by life, causing her to wonder if she had a dream anymore. 

Afterward, I opened the list of posts on my blog and my eye was caught by a draft I started almost a year ago.  I was surprised to read these words:

"I've been reading about God-sized dreams...and about a life interrupted through divine interventions...and I am confused because I'm not seeing how they intersect.  They seem to be at odds.

I have a dream.  To write.  To speak.  To change my little corner of the world.  It's God-sized to be sure.  Far loftier goals than I could ever hope to attain through my own feeble efforts.  But life hasn't been turning out like I thought it would. 

I can hear you now saying "c'mon Toni,.life rarely - if ever - turns out the way we expect".  I'm sure there's a lot of truth in that.  And yet..."

And that's as far as I got.

A year later and once again I've been reading a lot about God-sized dreams on sites like (in)courage and the newly launched God-Sized Dreams, so I think it's time not only to pick up where I left off, but to address my earlier confusion, because a year has clearly shown me how completely those two things - the God-sized dream and a life interrupted - can be totally connected...

As I met with the Pastor of Worship at my new church to discuss singing with the praise team, I mentioned my son.

"A son, so you're married?"

"Well, I've been separated for about a year now."

In the discussion that followed, he explained that while he didn't know me or the circumstances surrounding my separation, he had a policy.  He felt leading others while in the process of the divorce wasn't in my best interest, suggested attending Divorce Care, and said we could revisit the possibility of helping to lead worship once I was divorced and healing had taken place.

I was devastated.  I always believed singing was my God-given gift and calling.

It was "what I did".  

But there's a part of the story I haven't mentioned.  It's what happened before that encounter.  On my way to the meeting with that pastor, the strangest thing occurred.  I was rehearsing the song I was going to sing for him, but the closer I got to my destination, the more my voice weakened.  By the time I pulled into the church parking lot, I could barely speak let alone sing.  I sat in my car and cried out loud in a barely audible voice, "Lord, what's going on? What's happening to my voice?  Don't you want me to sing?"

I asked the question, but didn't listen for the answer because of course, it couldn't be 'no'.  I mean, after all, this is what I did in church.  

What I did do was leave that church angry.  Back in my car, it all came flooding out.  "God...what's with this guy?  He's right...he doesn't know me! Doesn't know my heart or my walk with you.  How can he judge me like that? Who better than me to minister to the brokenhearted and hurting God?  I've gone to hell and back this past year, Lord.  I've learned to trust you more than I ever did before.  I don't get this!!"

All the way home I seethed.  I didn't even realize my voice had returned as quickly as it had gone.

So, bam.  That was it.  Door closed.  

Slowly though, it did begin to dawn on me...the answer to my cry in the parking lot.  God didn't want me to sing - at least not at that particular time.  And He didn't want me to blame that pastor.  That's why my voice had disappeared just long enough to have the encounter...God wanted me to know He was in control of this situation.

But now what?  I was a fish out of water.

Despite that bitter disappointment, I really loved this church.  Sunday after Sunday since I had arrived, the words from the pulpit had been exactly what I needed to hear.  I truly felt God had given the senior pastor direct access to my heart and mind and was speaking to the hurts.  I was finally being fed in a way that hadn't happened in years.  

I realized I needed to listen and watch and pray to see what God did want me to do.  

Almost nine months passed.  That Christmas, the church held a "Family Photo Night" at a local women's shelter.  Instead of serving a Christmas dinner, we wanted to do something lasting...something that would make a real impact in the lives of those families.
Two photographers - one of whom was my daughter - set up holiday backdrops, and the place buzzed with excitement.  We photographed 35 families that evening.  A week later, a friend and I went back with a framed 5x7 photo and a dozen wallet sized pictures of each family.

It was a sight I will never forget.  Grown women running around like school girls exchanging the wallet photos with such joy! One woman reached out and put her hand on my friend's arm.

"Why are you doing this for us?" she asked with tears in her eyes.

"Because Jesus loves you, and we love you, and we just wanted you to know that," was my friend's reply.

I had read articles and books on ministry and they always said things like, 'you'll know where to plug in when you discover where your passion is...what breaks your heart.'

In that moment, I finally understood what that meant - and I knew what God was calling me to do.  

Closing the door on singing was a divine interruption.  If it hadn't happened, I would have joined the praise team and that would have been the end of it.  I would have done what I always did.

But God did interrupt my life, and He gave me a new dream.  One more far-reaching than I could have asked or imagined.

If you're asking questions, make sure you listen for the answer because very likely it will not be the one you expect.

And if you think God is taking your dream away...or you don't know whether you still have a dream because life's taken over...be still - and know that He is God. The Planter of dreams. The Giver of good things.  Just listen for His voice...

I'm pleased to link up today with God-sized Dreams and I invite you to read about the dream-seeking journey others are on too.


  1. Toni, that is totally awesome! You are so special, and in this year of trust, I feel God is going to open even more doors you never even imagined. It's so exciting to even think about your wonderful journey you are embarking on!!!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Rene. I really am excited about what this year and what that word 'trust' holds. As you know, I'm finding it at every turn! I too feel that I'm on the threshold of God opening doors in many areas of my life. Not sure where they will lead, but I will trust Him as I walk through them!

  2. Oh you encourage me. And bless me. Thank you so much!

    1. Thank YOU Shanyn...Often times I feel like this is just a space for me to work out all my issues "on paper" lol - I am always so happy to hear that something God has prompted me to write is a blessing to someone.

  3. WOW, Toni - what a beautiful story! I love how God adjusts our courses (even when it's not what we'd want or can understand at the time...) to get us where He wants us to be. (And I re-linked you on the God-sized dreams site, b/c the first one was broken! Didn't want anyone to miss this post!) : )

    1. Thank you Christine. Yes, sometimes God has to go so far as to take away my voice so I'll shut and listen lol, but I am ever grateful that He cares enough to go to such measures. There is no greater peace than being in His will. Thanks so much for the re-link!

  4. Wow what a post!! So very glad you shared it with us!! What an inspiration you will be to so many!

    1. Thank you Kristin. God has been so very good to me - all praise and glory and honor goes to Him. I am so thankful that He allows me to be used to encourage others :)

  5. Oh I just love this Toni! God is amazing. He just really knows what He's doing. What a beautiful testimony to waiting on God and being willing to do something other than what we've always done. Inspiring! I love seeing your writing and your story getting "out there" in the world!

    1. Thanks so much Elise! You know, once I was obedient to hearing what God had for me and started down that path, he gave me back the gift of worship leading. Interestingly enough, we got a new worship pastor who is also over missions, so I "report" to him in both areas. About a week ago, I told him I felt it was time to step away from the worship leading to fully pour myself into the outreach ministry. This was his response "I completely understand and support you. And yes, your focus on Community Connections (doing what you do that others can’t) is crucial and has completely rocked this church and community. Can’t be overstated." With support like that from church leadership, it is just confirmation yet again that God is in this and I am doing exactly what He created me to do :)