Saturday, August 29, 2015

Small Beginnings

I think I've figured out why the young are always admonished to dream big, or to keep dreaming.

It's because dreaming can be so incredibly hard.

I graduated from high school in 2014. Being homeschooled, I had the opportunity to plan my own grad ceremony. My family and I rented a spot in a local church. Friends and relatives showed up to wish me well. And there were speeches made my parents, my three grandmothers, and my brother. Bet you can guess a common theme, right?

They offered golden nuggets of advice for living well and following Jesus, of course. But time and again, it came back to the topic of dreams. Aspirations for the future. Choosing where to stake your tent. Never giving up. Always looking ahead. Dreaming big dreams, holding on to hope for great things.

We hear it everywhere. Disney creates sugary tales of underdogs who, with just the right amount of goodness and a little help from magic, achieve their dreams with a "Bippity, boppity, boo!" Songwriters encourage us to reach for the stars. People tell us we can be anything we want, do anything we set our minds to.

All well and good. But there's more to dreaming. And I think maybe we forget that there's more, because the next part is harder to swallow.

There's this thing called perseverance. There's another thing called stick-to-itiveness. There are ingredients we must add called patience, humility, and a willingness to learn (so that we can actually handle our dreams coming true).

Because some days, dreaming is downright hard. When everything in your world looks exactly the same as it did a year ago, or five years ago, it's hard to believe things will ever change. When you fall down again and again--when the mountain you were climbing ends up being far, far higher than you imagined at the start--it's oh so tempting to give up. It's tempting to let the dream die, because it hurts to hold onto it.

My dad recently described me as being "a bulldog with lipstick." When I fix my mind on something, I don't let go. I clamp my jaws around it and refuse to let anyone tug it from my grasp--not Time, not Challenges, not Discouragement. I would be lying if I said that wasn't hard sometimes. It is. Some days I couldn't even tell you why I do it. But I know it will be worth it one day. I've come too far to give up now. So on I go.

Something I've had to learn--no, a truth that splashed me in the face like a bucket of cold water (which was the only way I'd find the humility to accept it), was that small beginnings are okay. I grew up fashioning grandiose dreams, under the delusion that they would just happen, and that they would happen in large proportions.

Now I'm realizing that great things start small.

I'm realizing that though I long for the battlefield, I have been despising the training ground, and how unwise is that? If I ran into battle without an idea of how to swing a sword, I'd be dead in moments.

I'm realizing that to be faithful in the little things will one day result in bigger things coming my way.

I'm realizing that I'm most certainly not above doing the menial and the mundane.

It's these sandpaper days that smooth my rough edges. It's these long hours of doing things that aren't what I've set in my heart to do, that are preparing me for those very dreams.

There are waiting rooms in life. There are training arenas. Embrace them. Five loaves and two fish will become a feast. A tiny seed will turn into a massive tree. Small beginnings, dear one--don't despise them. Somewhere down the road, you'll look back on those little days and smile, for the wisdom and beauty woven into them will finally be visible.
"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." -Helen Keller
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin . . . (Zechariah 4:10a)


  1. Okay, this is crazy. Literally this morning I was thinking about dreams and how hard it is to be a dreamer and how we have to stick with them and basically EVERYTHING YOU JUST SAID. Like...everything. And not only that, I was wondering if I ever got my thoughts fully together I might try to turn it into a blog post sometime. Our brains are in sync. O_O I love it!

    But TRACEY. This poooost. This. Was. Perfect. Dreaming is so hard, especially when you realize just dreaming won't make it happen, you also have to DO, and stick with it. "Stick-to-itiveness" That's so the best. XD You said it so well!

    This really encouraged me because, well, I'm sort of a giver-upper. I don't stick with things like I should, I let failure discourage me farrr too much. I need these reminders to keep with it. And the small beginnings things. Yes, yes, yes! I used to be the same exact way, where I thought all the big, grand things would just happen. Tah-dah! All my dreams realized. *snorts* Um, no. XD We have to celebrate the milestones, the small beginnings, the little things that lead up to bigger things. EVERYTHING is an accomplishment and worth celebrating. I've had to learn that myself.

    Anyways, I'm babbling. But I just find it so great that this was literally going through my mind this morning, and you literally said everything I feel.

    Thank you for your encouraging words, and keep being that bulldog with lipstick. I love it. XD

    (BTW, the song was great! I've never heard it before now.)

    1. Really?? Wow, our brains ARE in sync. o.o That's awesome! (And you should totally go ahead and write that blog post. *nods* I want to hear your spin on it!)

      Well, "faith without works is dead," right? Sitting back and dreaming the day away won't get anything done--but plowing ahead without a dream or goal in mind isn't much use either. The dreaming and doing go hand in hand.

      A giver-upper? Well then, that's a side of you I haven't seen, because ever since I got to know you, you've been working hard and making all sorts of accomplishments. *hugs* But reminders are always good. (Goodness, I write these posts for MYSELF just as much as anyone.) Yes, celebrating the little things along the way is so important. We may have a long way to go, but look how far we've come!

      Thanks so much, Christine! You're a blessing! <3

      (Isn't it? And...*whispers* I just realized it kind of fits my Sleeping Beauty story. o.O)

  2. Beautifully written post, Tracey! I laughed out loud at the bulldog with lipstick. :p
    But in all seriousness, this was just the little bit of encouragement I needed to read tonight. I definitely agree that there's a lot more to dreaming than merely wishing them to come true already. Perseverance and patience and humility are sometimes a hard pill to swallow, but you're right that they are key ingredients to achieving your goals and following your dreams.
    Loved the quote by Hellen Keller and the song. Keep dreaming! :D

    1. Thank you so much! ^_^ (LOL, I did too when my dad called me that. 'Specially because I don't actually wear lipstick. XD)

      I'm so glad to hear that. Not that you were in a spot of needing encouragement, but that it did encourage you. <3 It definitely is a hard pill to swallow sometimes, that's for sure! But it's part of maturing, I think.

      You too, dear friend! :D

  3. This is so so relatable. Although I'm more the person who sees a mountain and then collapses at the bottom in a pile of tears. I AM A WEAKLING. But at the same time, when I get really focused on something I keep pushing at it...*nods* writing. Writing keeps biting me in the face, but I CAN'T quit on it.
    *whispers* That's so cool how you still had a graduation ceremony when you finished! When I finished school (I was homeschooled too) I don't even think we even had a special dinner *facepalm* My family is hopeless with celebrations.

    1. I'm glad it was relatable! ^_^ And trust me, I have done my fair share of teary collapsing too. YES, YES, WRITING. Some days are just plain hard, but we keeping pushing on because quitting is inconceivable. (Oh brother, now I'm thinking of "The Princess Bride." Waaaay off topic, Tracey. :P)

      Aw, no celebration? We must remedy that right now. Here. Have some cake. ^___^

  4. So true, you have to fight for your dreams, no one is going to wave a magic wand. This post inspired me, love the song too.

    1. *huggles* So glad you enjoyed it! One of those magic wands *would* be nice, but maybe we'd all be a lot more shallow then, with no need to work for anything...

  5. Wise words, Tracey. ^ ^ I really needed to hear this right now. I think what needs to be said at ceremonies isn't just to dream but to fight for your dreams. :)

  6. I'm glad it blessed you, Tori! <3 Keep pressing on, doing those little things faithfully. Great things are ahead!
    Yes, we do need to hear a balance of the dreaming and fighting.

  7. I love this post, Tracey. It's so encouraging! It's so easy to dream big and let your mind run wild with all the possibilities that you can realize in your life and all the things that you can achieve, but it's so much harder to actually follow through those dreams when the going gets tough and the path is so much longer than you ever thought it would be. I've felt this way with so many things. With writing, coding, running. Every time I finish another draft that's a mess, write another chunk of code that is messy and barely solves the problem, or run another run where I could have done better, I get discouraged because the gap between where I am and where I want to be seems so much larger. I guess I just have to have faith that someday, with hard work I'll get there.

    1. I'm so glad! And you are spot on--I love how you put that about following through when things get tough. I think there should always be a tension between where we are now and where we want to be, but it can easily become TOO much tension, leading to discouragement. We need to learn to be content with where we are, while still striving for greater things.

      You will get there! I've barely "met" you, and I can already see that you're a dedicated person. ^_^

      (By the way, do you mean coding in the computer-y sense? Because that sounds uber smart!)