I've kept this review in the back of my mind for the majority of this blog's history, and now that it's come to the forefront of my thoughts again, I thought I would take a brief jaunt into Todd Wilson's home school books; particularly Dream Big...But Beware of Dream Killers.
We quote his cartoons all the time, and if you need a good laugh then by all means pick them up. You can find samples here. There's nothing like the gratification of, after a rough day, pulling out one of his comics and making everyone collapse in laughter.
Now don’t mention that we didn’t get up till 9:30 or that your little brother can’t read…or that we buy our bread from a store…or that you’ve seen Disney movies…and whatever you do try not to say the words Batman or Power Rangers…and for goodness sakes try to act SMART!!!--www.familymanweb.com
Yep, they're good for a laugh. But the great thing about Todd Wilson is that, mixed in with all of his humor he manages to touch on some of the deepest hurts of the homeschool community: trying to be like the public school kids, worrying about having A+ grades all the time, fear of taking a day's break because other people might think you're slacking off, having difficulty with family relationships.
We first heard him in 2009 at our statewide homeschool convention, and laughed our heads off at his hilarious RV escapades and family mishaps, mixed in with his catch-phrase "This life is hard...but it is good." There are certain hurts that can only be ministered to under the cover of humor, because they are so personal, and the difficulties of marriage and parenting in the homeschool life are those kinds of hurts. We bought the DVD from that convention and watched it several times; ate up volume 1 of his homeschool cartoons, and my parents bought Help! I'm Married to a Homeschool Mom and Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe, respectively.
Then in 2011 he was back in our area at a campground. And the message he gave that week was a pivotal one for me. It was on dreaming--and how to deal with dream killers. Before I heard his message, I was attracted by a little blue paperback on his book table entitled Dream Big...But Beware of Dreamkillers, and I was definitely excited to find that his talk that day was about dreaming against cultural trends.
You see, I've always dreamed big. You can't chuck the traditional college route and strike off on your own without dreaming big. You can't go against all cultural trends on public school and dating and career without having something bigger than cultural affirmation to hold on to. And you also can't try to write without dreaming big, because publishing literary fiction in this economy is a very daunting dream indeed.
One of the greatest gifts of homeschooling is our capacity to dream, for we are taught to believe in the same God that fed 3 fish to 5,000 and brought men through a blazing furnace unharmed. We believe that no miracle is beyond His ability, and we also believe that He is just as willing to work them for us today as He was to work them in Bible times.
However, we live in a society of dream killers.
Put simply, there are just two kinds of people: dreamers and used-to-be-dreamers. To me, there is no sadder statement. That's why I'm starting this book again..because it needs to be written and you need to read it and then step out in faith and DREAM BIG!!!!
The 'safe' people around you will sake their heads in disbelief. Well-meaning 'safe' Christians will quote 'safe' verses and encourage you to stay in the 'safe' shallows, not realizing that God wants you in deep water. He wants you to trust Him and fear nothing. He has placed a dream in your heart because He wants you to go for it, set your jaw in determination, throw caution to the wind, and do it.
The Bible is filled with dreamers, who, against all odds and common sense, believed God and did something worth recording. In fact, their stories were recorded for us and serve as a reminder, not of great men, but of normal men and woman who were used by a great God to do great things.--Dream Big, but Beware of Dream Killers
Before we go on--what's your dream? Is it to have 19 kids in a world that mocks the value of children? Is it to produce high-quality Christian films even though you don't have a penny in the bank? And now ask yourself a second question--what are the dreams of the people around you? Maybe your dad wants to quit his job and strike out on his own, and he's going to need your help and support to do that. Maybe your parents want to adopt a child, go on a family trip, or have a better relationship with you.
Now that you've got your dream in mind, there are three key areas that Todd Wilson covers in his book.
Beware of Dream Killers
A dream killer is someone who tries to dissuade you from accomplishing your goal. Dream killers come in the form of well-meaning friends, husbands, wives, parents, and grandparents. The fact is that, while sometimes this is a God-given caution, in many instances it's the reaction of a former dreamer who has had a dream killed themselves. It doesn't necessarily mean that your dream is a bad one. When I graduated high school I had many people who were concerned for my welfare and success, who suggested that I at least go to college until I 'figured out what I wanted to do'. They loved me, and didn't want me to make choices that would ruin my chance at the American Dream.
Dream killers don't want to see something go wrong--in reality, they're afraid that your dream won't come true, and they don't want to watch that happen.
But part of dreaming is gently showing the person that God has given you the dream, and you don't have to have a backup in case it doesn't work out. You just have to obey and follow Him.
And don't be a dream killer--people won't stop dreaming, they'll just stop telling you about it. You don't want to break down those lines of communication. Trust God to kill the ones in those around you that aren't the good ones. He has the power to take away the desire, but that's His prerogative, and He is the only one who can do it without breaking heartstrings in the process.
Know Your Dream is From God
Some dreams are merely selfish desires, and it's important to tell the difference between the two. Here are three pointers that can help determine which is which:
1. Is it in obedience to your God-given authorities?
There are times when we bring forward an idea and our parents veto it immediately. In some cases, that's a clear indication that it is not God's plan, but in some cases it is merely a sign to wait. Don't pursue it unless you have their blessing and understanding--it will come, if it's God's dream. I've had dreams that I've had to wait on, but many of them God has brought about in His good time.
2. Is it crazy?
If it's a God-dream, then it should be. I have found that to be the case--in choosing to go the non-traditional route, my life is no longer a safe one. Often I wake up and wonder how God will possibly use this for good in a culture that wants accreditation from the 'experts'. It is not safe, or secure, or easy, but I would not trade my situation with any other young woman on earth. I would rather be living a crazy dream from God without guarantees than a safe American Dream that He never designed His people to follow.
3. Do you have a track record?
I guess God could have taken a three-year-old little girl armed only with a jump rope and killed Goliath, but that's not usually how He works. --Dream Big, But Beware of Dreamkillers
You need to study your craft, have just a smidgen of natural inclination for it (though not a lot--God doesn't need you to be John MacArthur to become a pastor) and have a heavy dose of passion for your subject.
Be Willing to Dream Alone
Never, ever say "I could have been so much in life if other people hadn't killed my dreams." It's not true. If God gives you a dream, then He doesn't need a single other person on this earth to believe in it for it to work. And the fact is, if your dream is impossible to pursue because of the limitations of others around you, then it either isn't a God-dream, or now isn't God's time.
God never holds you back because of other people's sins or fear, or lack of interest. Sometimes you have to dream alone for a while. And when people see you dream, and watch your dream take tangible shape, they may just start dreaming with you.
Todd covers so much more in his short little book than I can in this article. Probably some of the points here have sparked questions that I haven't addressed here. I hope you get the book for yourself, because he covers all the angles and excuses and fears that dreamers struggle with. Every couple of pages he puts inspirational and thought-provoking quotes to spark the dreamer in the person reading it.
This is a tough world to dream in, but it's not impossible. I highly recommend that you pick up your copy and leave the safe waters of mediocrity. You'll never regret it.
After the message was over, my mother gave me Dream Big, the book version. I took it up to Todd to have it signed, and on the title page whenever I open it, I see "Schuyler, Dream it!! Todd"
I've been "Dreaming it" ever since.