Guest Blog: From a Park Bench to Air Force One: Pray Big, Dream Big

I’m excited to share the voice of one of my friends with you today as a guest blogger.  The idea struck me a few weeks ago when blogging and bragging on my friends and family that I DO have amazing people surrounding me, so why don’t I let them use their voice and tell their stories too?  I hope you enjoy Kim’s beautiful personality, faith and joy as much as I do!

From a Park Bench to Air Force One: Pray Big, Dream Big

When thinking about faith or God, I think it’s easy for many of us to get into a trap or line of thinking that God doesn’t want me to have fun, he wants to constrict me with a set of rules and most certainly he doesn’t want me to do anything cool.

I used to think that too, until this happened:  I went from sitting on a park bench overlooking Lake Michigan to riding around the world on Air Force One, with my first trip being the day President Obama authorized the Osama bin Laden mission.

Parkbench

The park bench in Milwaukee, WI overlooking Lake Michigan where I made the decision to move to Washington, DC.

Turns out having faith ended up being the most adventurous thing I could ever do in life!

How did that happen?

Well, my story went something like this: surrender, prayer, risk, suffering and God’s glory revealed.

I’m a journalist, so I naturally like to document what I see and hear – I save ticket stubs, take countless photos and journal what I see and hear in my life.  At some point I stopped just writing accounts of my day, and started praying through my pages – penning my fears, hopes, dreams and questions.

When I started to look back on my journey in my journals, I found an order and cadence to what I thought was chaos.  What I took as just little doodle thoughts between me and God turned out to be a prayer dialogue and dream catalog.

We often think of prayer as using our best formal King James Version Bible voice or saying a quick “grace” before dinner, but I’ve found it’s so much more than that – it’s a beautiful and delicate dance of co-authoring our future with our creator and getting in sync with his plan.

The first step is giving way to whatever God’s will is and being completely open to whatever that is, even if it includes tough times or suffering.

 As a college senior I was sitting in the Brew Bayou coffee shop on Marquette University’s campus when I wrote down a soul-filled prayer of surrender.  I wrote, in part:  “Let me be a servant.  If I may.  Live in your goodness, know those gifts.  Not for my gain, but for yours. Allow me to use my unique life as a vessel to serve you.”

Fast forward a couple years, I created what I called a prayer map.  It was a piece of paper with sayings and verses at the top, and a list of goals, people I was praying for and ideas I wanted to focus and meditate on at the time.  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) was one of them.

I was working in local TV with some really great people on a couple shows in the Milwaukee area.  One program was with inner city teens through the local public school district tackling issues like drugs, sexuality, poverty and violence and another on the intricacies of business and what drives an emerging global and digital economy.  When the shows ended, I had a nagging feeling to do something new – that I should maybe move to New York or Chicago, or go to graduate school or make a big change. But what?

 I still felt totally lost and during a time of long walks along Lake Michigan and lots of contemplation, I began to ask questions and wrote on November 4, 2003:  “Where do you want me to go? Where can I represent you?  Where is your will? Tug at my heart.  I am willing and waiting.”

It was Tax Day of 2004 when I was sitting on that park bench overlooking Lake Michigan and having just done my taxes, was depressed at how much money I wasn’t making.  Then I had this thought: “well if I’m going to be this poor, I might as well be poor and going for my dream.”  Then I got what I call a nudge or prompt, when my inner voice said three very specific things 1) Move to Washington, D.C. 2) Cover politics 3) Work for a national network.

I called my mom and told her the news and her reaction was, “you’re doing WHAT?!”

Her response was within reason: I had no resources, no connections and no money.  While my work in television so far had been successful, three Emmy nominations in my first three years, I hadn’t done anything with politics or on the national stage, but I took the risk anyway.  I’m pretty sure my friends thought I was crazy, and certainly at moments I felt that way too!

I sold shoes to pay for my UHaul, had an $11 a week grocery budget and made the move to DC.  I slept on my friend’s floor for three months, knocked on doors, sent hundreds of emails, made dozens of cold calls and got rejection after rejection.

Those first few months were excruciatingly hard financially and spiritually and there were many moments I had frustration or anger with God with every unanswered phone call or bill I couldn’t pay.  The anxiety was causing suffering in every party of my being.  I had listened to his prompt and took the risk, prayed my heart out and was frustrated at the pace or lack of answering my prayers that I was perceiving.  For anyone who thinks my life is now glamorous, I can tell you there were countless hours in the trenches full of mundane, scary and rough moments (and still are).

I worked for a temp agency filing papers in the Refugee Services at Catholic University and it took me about a year to get a full-time television gig.  My first day on my first real TV job in DC was for a small bureau and happened to be the night Hurricane Katrina hit.  I had to do the overnight shift, going into work at 1 a.m. for two years, which was so hard, but it turns out doing the graveyard shift during the height of the Iraq war, so everything was happening overnight.  Those early morning hours allowed me to hone my research skills and see how the Washington news cycle is driven by the early morning hours.  Those skills I still utilize to this day.  God had a plan and he was refining my skills for the next move.

 This is where it gets fun.

A couple years later I finally landed my job at a national network – and get this – it was exactly three years to the week when I wrote down my goal in my journal!

The only reason I know that is because I tracked the dream.  I prayed the prayers on the pages of my journal.  The best part about documenting the dream is that I can give God the glory.  I have confidence it wasn’t some random occurrence or just a coincidence, it was divine providence that jumped from my pages into real life.

I surrendered, entered a period of discernment and prayer, then presented the desire of my heart – to work for a national network. I had faith in the unknown and even though I had moments of doubt, when I persevered through the pain and had patience, it was unbelievable.

God came back and said, sure I’ll give you your dream, but I can do one better: you’ll not only work for a national network, you’ll work for the number one network.  And then he said I’ll do even better than that – not only will you work for the number one network, you’ll cover the most famous address in the land, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

AF13

In front of Air Force One during the 2012 campaign.

I think he was actually showing off a little!

And that’s where the prayer dance gets real.  I do my part, which is listening for direction and his will, defining my goal, be willing to endure sacrifice and suffering embraced with trust, and God comes back BIG time with his power and glory.  He’s able to do far more than I ever could, I just had to let him do it.

 One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about a blind man who gets the attention of Jesus.  Jesus responds by saying “What do you want me to do for you?”  Everyone clearly knew he needed eyesight, and of course Jesus knew, but he still made the man say it.  Jesus responded, “your faith has healed you.”  God asks us to get specific and have faith.  Sure, he knows our needs, but his call is for us to bring everything to him in prayer, to tell him what it is we want and get into his presence.

I have found journaling to be an important spiritual discipline in defining dreams and creating this dialogue with God.

 If you go to Starbucks, you don’t just say “give me a fabulous drink!”  I mean you could, but most of the time you give a specific order – “I’d like a Hazelnut Macchiato, light on the syrup, extra hazelnut drizzle, double shot of espresso, please.”

Now God is not our wish center, we can’t just ask for anything and expect to get it and we have to align with his will, but he does ask us to ask!

 Faith becomes anything but restricting, and God more than anything wants to give you the desire of your heart.

When we sync with his strategy, get specific, are patient and work hard, then we just might find crazy adventures are in store.

 Never in my wildest dreams did I think the granddaughter of South Dakota farmers could end up in the Oval Office, traveling to Africa and Australia with the president, or witnessing history on a daily basis.

My dream took years to unpack, and while I cannot predict the timetable for your next dream or mine, I do know the task: surrender, pray and dream big!

 
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2 Comments

  1. acepicard says:

    I’ve been telling Kim for most of this year tray she should have her own blog, and this is the reason why! For words are so inspirational, for one so young. She moves me every time she details moments in her life that bring her to this conclusion. I’m proud of her for writing this down, and I’m grateful to GOD.

  2. Pingback: My Mount Moriah Moment, Part I - Aaron Welty | Aaron Welty

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