How God Speaks To Us

“I didn’t really leave quietly,” said the gentle voice of the man sitting across from the screen from me, “I ran screaming.” Scott Maderer. He was talking about his exit from the church world. “It wasn’t until years later that I came back to God.”

 

For his day job, Scott works with ETS. The testing service that gives us all of the wonderful things we love to hate. Like the GRE, of which I am too familiar and has made me feel less than genius more than once. His dream is one that he pursues with his wife. Together they do financial leadership or stewardship coaching, as well as entreleadership through Dave Ramsey’s company. When he told me this, he said,“we’re calling it "stewardship coaching"  even though it’s kind of a Christian buzzword. We're trying to reclaim it as more than being about money but rather stewarding all of your gifts for God's glory. That's really where it starts to feel real. People put up barriers. Part of stewarding well is getting rid of those barriers.”

 

Getting rid of barriers and Dave Ramsey is where our story comes back to Scott’s return to faith.

 

“It was because of Dave Ramsey. My marriage is saved, I didn’t commit suicide, and I found God again because I started listening to his radio show. Sounds crazy, right? But I think God speaks to us in the way we can hear Him. We were so in debt and I didn’t know how we were going to get out of it. There was the answer.”

 

God speaks to us in the way we can hear Him.

 

My mind is blown away by both the simplicity and the profundity of this statement. It echoes in me as I think of the ways He has done this in me, in those around me. The way He is doing it in you.

 

“It’s why we coach now,” Scott continued, “to give others to the opportunity to have this experience.” I asked him what it was like to pursue your dream alongside of your spouse. “It’s terrifying. You wonder what will happen if something goes wrong; it goes to our core. It’s inspiring; it is incredibly deep. Anything that feels like that much of your identity is fear inducing. I think this is why so many people don’t even try to live a dream.”

 

It’s true. I’ve heard it said so many times. People know what they were created to do but fear stands in their way. Some of their largest fears are money and time. Scott and his wife are teaching people how to steward these things, their lives, well. They have already helped many clients and friends achieve freedom from debt and learn how to become better stewards in various areas of their lives. A new website  was even launched a month ago. The Maderers hope to be full-time by the end of the year. “We’re waiting for the boat to get a little closer to the dock before we jump,” he said to me, smiling.

 

I smile back and think, “that is a good thing.” I think that is called wisdom. I think that Scott and his wife have learned to mutiny well and are teaching others how to do the same thing. God speaks to us in the way we can hear Him. If we are willing to listen, it can move us forward into the most beautiful dreams we were created to pursue.

Mutiny Well, Dreamer.

Build A Dream, Find A Dream

“Hey, Rugby!” I heard a voice coming from the back as I tripped into the half empty bus from the rainy afternoon. I knew without having to ask that this stranger was referring to me. It was almost a year ago and I was San Diego for the Storyline conference put on by Donald Miller and his team. I had the (mis)fortune of participating in a pre-conference improv workshop put on by Tripp Crosby. Somehow I found myself on-stage in an improv exercise that led to me hinting at some sort of misconduct with an entire rugby team. That combined with my hot pink rainboots had led to some notoriety at the conference. The voice at the back of the bus was accompanied by sparkling eyes and a mischevious grin. I would find out it’s owner’s name was April Beltran.

 

April is an artist and a writer. She is a graphic designer who loves to travel. And when I met her she had many dreams and no specific dream and she wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted. After Storyline, we kept in touch. As we continued getting to know each other, I learned something quickly about April. Her family is extremely important to her. Many of the dreamers that I talk are incredibly passionate about their dreams. And April is. When I would talk to her, she would discuss her artwork and what she hoped it would accomplish and where it would go. But as much as she talked about her dream, it was matched by her family. Her hopes and dreams for them. Her love for them.

 

When I learned she was putting her dream on hold for a little bit to make one of her family’s dreams come true, it wasn’t surprising to me. Her father has an illness that is causing him to lose his sight. He has always wanted to travel to the Philippines. April created a crowdfunding campaign to make this dream a reality. She could have created a campaign to launch some of her dreams but instead she decided that this was the one she wanted to see come to life. Her campaign was successful and the trip was this year’s Christmas present to her family.  

 

April told me this, “While funding my dad's trip I found my own. My dream is to live fully so others can live as well. Letting go of  a career so that I could find the thing He wanted me to. I don't want anymore starving artists I want thriving ones.” She is currently working for a start-up while traveling the world with her team. She is living her dream. “When I get super fixated on this dream. When I get tunnel vision on the dream, I miss out on all the things along the way. Loving what I do and getting to support other people in their dreams and travel.”

 

Sometimes when we help make the dreams of someone else come true, we find our own. If we are willing to support the pursuits of those around us and encourage them, our time will come. Perspective is a funny. When we are willing to take our eyes off of ourselves, dreams beyond our own can come true.

Mutiny Well, Dreamer.

I Still Believe In 398.2 (Fairy Tales)

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“I still believe in 398.2.” I do. I really do. 398.2 is a part of the Dewey Decimal system. It is the section of the library where you will find folk stories and fairy tales. The words I am staring at are engraved on a brass plate tied down to a leather bracelet wrapped around my arm. “I still believe,” I whisper softly to myself. Because I do.

Even after everything. The divorce. The assault. The manipulative half relationship I managed to maneuver myself into for too long. Even after all of that. I still believe. Which is a little ridiculous when you think about it. So many events and situations have played out in the past year to teach me that love and relationships are ugly. Life has tried to teach me that love is transactional. Men only want to use you and that I am unworthy of being fought and cared for.

Though some elements of fairy tales speak to me, I live firmly rooted in the real world where the laws of science apply. Thankfully we have this little thing called Newton’s Third Law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is obviously speaking about motion but I think it works in life too. And it is what has happened to me.

Good men have filled my life in the past year, fighting the darkness with their light.

I talk so much about the incredible women in my life and I thought it was time I told you about these men. Some of you reading this need hope. Some of you have been wounded deeply by those who promised to love you. Some of you have had your hearts shredded by the one who was supposed to adore you. And some of you have been abused by the one who swore to protect you. Because of this I am going to show you the faces and the stories of the men who have been my lamps leading me out of my darkest nights. They are dented and imperfect but valiant knights who have fought by my side and still do on this journey.

“Thank you” will never be a good enough phrase to say how grateful I am that they are a part of my life.

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Randy. “This is not who you are, it is just where you are,” is what he told me. He would send me Scripture and encouragement on the darkest days. When I started therapy, he and his wife LeAnne would send texts every week letting me know they were holding my hand with their prayers as I walked in the doors. He never ran away from my broken. He ran to it. Love does.

 

 

Ryan. “I heart your face.” He’d say these words with a smile and a laugh but the smile and laugh wouldn’t last too long as he’d begin to inquire if I had been eating. He kept me from starving during the worst parts of this year when I didn’t care about food and couldn’t remember to feed myself. He would remind me. “Have you eaten today? YOU’RE TOO SKINNY. That isn’t real food. EAT SOMETHING.” He is a Southern mama. He is a safe place.

 

Matt. He is always quoting some bit of wisdom from a writer or a poet. It never fails to remind me of who I am and where I am headed. He has played the role of friend, pastor, and devil’s advocate. He understands what it is like to walk through Hell and wonder if you are ever going to make it out and as he once reminded me C.S. Lewis wrote, “Adventures are never fun while you’re having them.” He is wisdom and strength.


Jon. He believed in me and believed me. Those are two different things. He and his wife Jenny have taught me so much about what it means to fit and work together in a relationship (when my book is finished you’ll get to read my thoughts on that). But the thing Jon taught me was how to trust authority again. He taught me that being brave and speaking truth is the right choice. And when you are willing to do it, sometimes your truth is heard and honored. He went first. He taught me how to be more brave. And then he honored my truth.

 

Jeremy. “The darkness may surround you but it will not overcome you.” There is not enough room in these five lines to tell you how this man and his words have brought light into my life. I can only tell you that without the introduction of him into my story I’m not sure if I would be as whole as I am right now. He helped me remember my worth and value. He cared for me just because he could. He is light in the dark.

 

 

 

 

Jake. “Why can’t you just let me take care of you?” Those words will resonate in my heart for a very long time. He reminded me that in order for me to be loved, I have to actually ALLOW myself to be loved. He has shown me that I am worth fighting for and that I deserve to be fought for and will be fought for. He is my Bedlam partner, my friend and my family and I would walk in through the front door of Hell to drag him out if it was necessary. He is a wild heart. He fights for love.

 

Cory. I can’t write about him without bawling. He is my bub. Though he’s younger than me, he has taken on the role of my older brother. He has laid down crossfire for me. He has been willing to walk into battle for me. He has kept me from walking into situations that would have harmed me. He is a warrior and a leader and when he said, “You have to come write for Bedlam,” he maybe saved my life. He made me a part of a community that held me tight and helped me heal. He is an advocate. Cory Copeland loves people.

 

Michael. My little brother. “Stop trying to be so good all the time. Quit trying to save yourself and let God do His job. You suck at it.” He never fails to speak truth to me and has never stopped loving me. Even through the hardest moments. We are very different but he always picked up the phone and had a prayer or just the words “I love you.” He never walked away. He never judged me. He remained. He is my blood.

 

Dad. “It is providential that you are at home with your dad and seeing good men and how you should be treated while you are in the midst of writing about the dark time in your life.” That’s what my therapist said this morning in our session. And it is true. Being here in this safety is such a good thing at this moment. My dad has never ceased to show his love for me. He has never stopped telling me how loved I am. Even when I didn’t behave how he thought I should. Even when life jacked me up in ways that his life experiences could not have prepared him to fathom, he held me and said, “you’re going to make it. There is more on the other side of this. I love you.” He is grace.

And there is more on the other side. That is what I want you to take away from all of this. From each of these men. From each of their stories. From my story. There is hope. There is more to come. This is not the end of your story. This dark place you are in is not where it ends. There is light. So much light. It comes from all of the people He has and is placing in your life. And these are just the men. If I began to tell you about the women it would take several blog posts.

Take heart, my loves...believe in 398.2….knights are still out there. They may be worn and tired and a bit dented around the edges, but they will fight for you. And they will stand by your side as you fight. They will teach you how to use a sword and when to swing and who to use it against. They will show you how to be more brave and be inspired by your bravery.


I still believe in fairy tales; my version of them. Do you?