The Hideaway House
A dream was kindled in me a couple years ago. It didn't originate with me, I can't take credit for it's birth. The match was struck by Melissa Millar. She talked of having a Young Life house for women. At the time I thought, "That's nice, for Melissa." I think she called it "Ruth's house", a place where women could grow and lean into life with Christ, on mission together.
Then kindling was added by Anneleise Tremont. This time the gleam of a Young Life House began to catch a fire. My heart caught vision, and since the dream has turned into an ember, burning with the hope for a home where my Young Life friends could experience the practical collision of brokenness and grace.
I dreamed of a place my friends could go when they were kicked out of their homes. A home where my kids would experience family dinner. Where they would know they would always encounter love and not condemnation. A home where joy and grief were equally received. Where love was recklessly given, not based on an exchange or achievement. A home for real, incarnational ministry.
I didn't think that kind of home would be possible until I got married, and even when I thought I might be married the dream finally seemed like a chance. But that specific opportunity wasn't God's plan for either of those dreams to come true for me then.
The young flame sputtered. The Young Life House turned from a blaze to a gleam, small coals going cold seemed forgotten for another year.
Then in January I started talking to my friend Morgan, who serves on our Young Life committee with his wife, Rona. I was looking for a place to live and he offered their mother in law apartment above their garage.
I was entirely reluctant! The idea of living alone was terrifying. Even semi alone above a garage seemed like remote exile. But I was desperate for a living situation, and willing to give it a chance.
When I told Morgan I'd come take a look he casually mentioned, "We're going to try to convince you to start a Young Life House when you come up."
The coal brightened as a fresh wind fanned an ember, I remembered the dream, "You won't have to work very hard at convincing." I responded. "That dream's been around for a while..." A light began to flicker.
As I drove up the hillside to Morgan and Rona's stunning home, taking a sharp turn into the mountains I started to feel trepidation, joy, and grief crashing into me. A gentle voice clearly whispered, "Say, 'Yes' to every opportunity I give you this morning,"
I took a deep breath as I took the next turn. That could mean ANYTHING. "Okay, but please don't make it hurt too much." I quickly shot back.
Morgan greeted me at the door. After touring the one bedroom, studio mother in law, he asked, "Want to see the rest of the house?"
Duh. Of course I did. But I responded WAY more nonchalantly. I think.
After touring their gorgeous, five bedroom home, Morgan made some coffee and we settled into leather club chairs.
"So we want to know what you would think about making THIS house a house for Young Life?" Morgan asked.
My heart leapt, and my eyes misted with tears. Once again the dream started to revive. We began a conversation of dreams and stories, and I probably got WAY too weepy about all of it. Morgan and Rona's heart and vision was a path I had journeyed often with a dead end at the impossible.
As we finished, Morgan said, "Keep dreaming. In fact, dream big, and ask big."
Who were these people to encourage me to keep dreaming?!?! That alone was a dream come true!
Okay, I'm saying, "yes". Yes to dreaming. Yes to the mother in law home. Yes to a Young Life house.
Shortly after I was reading through Luke 11:
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
A weight sunk in me. Jesus wants me to dream and ask for my dreams, but when I ask, He wants me to believe He will deliver. I realized I often dream and ask for the fish, expecting and preparing myself for the snake.
Jesus says, "Keep dreaming, keep asking, I want to give you a ride on Shamu. Just you wait and see."
But so often I've come to him, bracing myself for a snake or scorpion. I even started to do this with the idea of a Young Life House.
As I talked this through with Adam Legg, he took it to another level (of course), "Or I ask for the fish and then when I get a herring I'll settle for that, thinking that's as far my Father would go."
I imagined holding a tiny herring in my hand. How often did I hang onto that tiny herring with all my might thinking that was all my Father would give me when He was just waiting for me to loosen my grip and let me hook a King Salmon?
So I started dreaming and I started asking. I started asking expecting something as thrilling as a ride on Shamu or hooking that prized salmon. Something far beyond my wildest dreams.
Something like the Hideaway House. A beautiful home nestled in the Chugach mountainside, settled on a quiet, little lake, a place where stillness dwells, and souls finally find rest. A place that seems like a dream in itself.
I stepped into the first "yes" and moved into the mother-in-law, dreaming of what the Hideaway House would look like as a Young Life house. I found living in my little, tiny house isn't so scary, and has been entirely sweet.
My dreams haven't come free of insecurities and fears. The ones you say out loud embarrassed that they're actually a legitimate fear. The insecurities that try to push you away from community. Oh they're there, shifting and restlessly attempting to stifle the burning dream.
They come in the forms of,
- What are you doing with your life?
- Does this mean you'll be single (like a NUN) for the rest of your life?
- What if no one ever comes to the Hideaway House?
- Are you living a meaningless life?
- What if you can't do it? What if you fail?
Yes, these and more are the unfriendly fears trying to chase away my dreaming.
But I'm saying yes.
Today Morgan and Rona leave, entrusting this home to the ministry of Jesus. I'm astounded and completely overwhelmed by their generosity. They are rare visionaries. And visionaries are different from dreamers. Visionaries dream and can catch a dream. Visionaries breathe hope and life into dreams.
They easily blew oxygen on a slumbering dream and the flames grew. They're leaving a wildfire legacy that's just starting to burn steadily.
I'm completely undone that this dream, that didn't even originate with me, is being bestowed upon me in the most extravagant way.
What was once a cool coal is now a blaze igniting new dreams, hopes to see our Young Life friends practically loved, encouraged and inspired to deeper life with Jesus.
And still my Father affirms my obedience to him. My friend Kate texted me last week, "Two weeks ago God laid on my heart that you should consider being a House Director. I didn't say anything because I know how much you love and thrive in Alaska. But He put it on my heart again today..."
Kate didn't know, but I did. And I sat in my car and cried. I cried that God would give me a king salmon over a herring. I cried that he would be gracious enough to soothe my doubts. I cried that a dead, impossible dream would be possible by a sweet, kind, loving Father. I cried that he would bring visionaries to bellow and breathe vibrant, flaming life to a dream when all that seemed left was ash and dust.
So today is the first day of the Hideaway House.
Soon this home will be filled with family, Young Life family, on mission together, practically bringing messiness, grace, brokenness, and love into the same rooms. Filling this home with laughter, tears, and life's spectacular every day events. Today the dream become a reality, and I pray that I will honor the inspirer of the dreams, the maker of the impossible.
To him who is able to all and more than we think, imagine or even dream.