I could see it in friends - and myself - who pushed to actively pursue their dreams: from picking up a paper route to save up and pay for midwife training, to giving away and selling possessions in preparation to move to another state, to wading into the world of art by investing in prints of paintings.
And I could see it in the books that were being published this year.
Why dreams? Why are they so important?
There are dreams we already have that God honors, and there are dreams that God gives us that we never expected would become a dream. I have always loved studying wildflowers and seeking them out in ditches and swamps, but I never expected God to give me a dream - and the ability - to draw them, not when I made it through school as a decent but by no means impressive artist. And I never expected that clearly God-given ability to translate to animals, when I'd always struggled to make them anything but cartoons.
God gives us the opportunity to pursue both kinds of dreams, sometimes even together. And sometimes they are not particularly compatible, like art and my love of languages. At the moment, my desire has been focused on art, as have time and opportunity, and so it seems like languages have gone by the wayside. But just because one dream eclipses the other now does not mean that we should give up on either - God gives us dreams for a reason, and I don't believe He will let them be lost. Who knows when that dream will once again become a burning desire, and suddenly doors will open to pursue it?
(Added December 31, 2014): Suppose you have a dream, something you're passionate about, but you don't know how to pursue it, or your present attempts have failed? I have to add these words from Elizabeth Camden, since it puts it so much more clearly than I could describe it. In her new release, Beyond All Dreams (Bethany House, 2015), the author writes (in regards to a boy with a passion for painting):
"If you don't make it as a painter, funnel that passion into something else, but it doesn't have to die. . . If you don't make it as a painter, perhaps you'll be a great teacher. Or a museum curator. Maybe you'll become a rich industrialist and fund a museum. Just don't limit yourself by thinking you already know God's purpose for you." (134)God has ways of using our dreams that we don't expect or even imagine.
Given that the fiction this year has overwhelmingly touched on dreams, I compiled a list of those that stood out especially to me, so read and be inspired:
A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House, April)
While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad (Revell, May)
Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade (Bethany House, May)
Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg (Bethany House, May)
In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin (Revell, August)
Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer (Bethany House, September)
A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears (Bethany House, September)
Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman (Revell, October)
What dreams are you pursuing?