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A new year is a time ripe for the launch of a new dream. Here’s my story about swinging into space toward a new dream and without the net of my backup plan.

I stared gloomily at the tops of my students’ heads as they worked on their newest assignment.  How could I be so completely miserable in a job that had once brought me such joy?  Where had the girl gone who wanted to be just like her favorite teacher, Mrs. Warren?

From third grade on, all I wanted to be was a teacher who taught with Mrs. Warren’s creative energy. I pursued that goal with every ounce of myself, and I approached educating children like a zealot.  Even after our children were born, I became a stay-at-home mom with part-time teaching jobs that fueled our family’s finances.

Teaching was always my backup plan.

I remember the exact day that my sense of calling began to change.  I sat across from my friend Christie listening intently as she talked about her work with a campus ministry. Even though her life as an almost 30-year-old, single woman living with college students was challenging, her eyes danced as she talked about how she was investing her life.  That conversation left me with the persistent thought, “I’d do anything if I could talk to people about Jesus all day.”

Over time, God began shifting my passion from elementary education to a new kind of studying and teaching.  He opened doors for me to become our church’s Women’s Ministry Director and then to speak and write.  I threw myself into studying scripture in a deeper way and passed on what I learned to other women.  My desire to make ministry a vocation grew along with the number of opportunities that God was providing.

But I was scared.

Teaching was my place of qualification and natural gifting.   It was safe.  It was also a steady paycheck, so I “fell back” into the classroom where I found myself in quite an unhappy state.  Although I had chosen what looked like the ideal setting for a return, I was miserable.

God had been so clear about giving me a new calling and passion.  I was called to teach children at one time, but God had new and different plans now. 

After taking the daunting step of telling the director at my school that I wouldn’t be returning the next year, a close friend traveled with me to a speaking engagement. Our conversation wandered from parenting to church events and finally to my heartache for women alone in ministry with little support and encouragement. Suddenly she said, “Maybe that’s your new job.”  I can’t explain that moment except that there was almost an audible “click” in my heart as all the pieces fell into place.  My passion for teaching, mentoring, scripture, and women’s ministry all melded into one job description, and I knew it was mine.  Next Step Speaker Services was birthed.

God didn’t give the new dream a concrete shape until I discarded my backup plan.  God showed me complete obedience is working without a backup plan and following His design with abandon. 

He has taken me on a new journey of faith that feels like swinging on a trapeze high in the big-top without a net below.  I have to admit that it’s a little scary, but it’s also completely exhilarating.  With God’s direction and provision, my husband’s support, and my Proverbs 31 Ministries sisters cheering me on, I’m living the new dream God placed in my heart.

Do you feel stuck and miserable as you longingly watch your dream from a distance?

I can so identify with you, and I want to say to you, dear friend, that life is too short to do anything besides the one thing for which you are created at this moment. 

Change is scary, and I’ve found it requires not only prayer but planning and hard work.  It’s true that obedience has a cost, but the reward of joy is so much greater when we run hard into God’s glorious purpose…without a backup plan.

Is God calling you to trust Him with a new dream? What can you swing into without a backup plan?


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Amy Carroll’s passion is living the untied life. She loves to see women freed into the matchless pleasure of deep relationship with God and others. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team and the blissful director of Next Step Speaker Services. She lives in North Carolina with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about speaker coaching at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org

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