Welcome to Saturday Share!
The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus. It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line. If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.
I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives. Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer:
Learning to Dream with God
By Chloe Townsend
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed creating things of my own. It mainly started with the art form of drawing. My big brother and I would spend hours in his closet tracing looney tunes characters in hopes that one day we could do it without the help of the massive character book that guided our hands as we lined the cartoon shapes on our pieces of tracing paper.
It wasn’t just my brother and looney tunes that influenced my desire to create. My mother was an incredible seamstress with a studio above our garage full of fabrics, threads, and machinery. I spent many days watching as she intricately sewed curtains and reupholstered furniture for clients and new projects.
Creativity seemed to be in my biological makeup. But what has been interesting for me as I’ve “grown up” is that with all of the creativeness I had around and within me, I never knew what I wanted to do with it. I knew it was something I truly loved and I often felt like my true self while doing anything in the artistic category, but when I went to college I was so unsure of what occupation to choose for my life. To do a fine art degree would mean that I would most likely struggle financially unless I magically received an art opportunity of a lifetime so I nixed that idea before I finished my senior year of high school. I didn’t want to be the struggling artist. And then I heard about graphic design which I thought maybe that could work if I decided I wanted to go the art direction. I signed up to take the Introduction to Graphic Design class my second semester of college and by the end of it, I felt like I had failed it. My professor’s critiques made me believe I was in the wrong department. So I switched my career focus and decided business sounded like a possible choice.
That next semester I took a few business classes and felt more confused than ever. Then, when I received my grade for the prior semester, I had a B in the graphic design course! Like, what? I thought I failed that sucker. So I noped out of the business department and immediately decided from that point on that graphic design was what I needed to do. Out of all the other career paths, that one felt the “most right” for me.
All throughout college, the design professors would say that designers needed to find their niche. Whether it was branding, illustration, or marketing/advertising – find that specific design area to thrive in. Yeah, I never did that. I had NO idea what design area I liked best or thrived in and quite honestly, I had no intention of figuring that part out. I got to the point where I would say that versatility was one of my main strengths. That was just my way of avoiding what they told me I should do.
So, let’s fast forward past graduation and to me landing my first “big girl” job. I became a marketing designer at a company north of Atlanta and really learned the difference between a mediocre designer and a great designer. There were many things that college was unable to prepare me for in the real design world but I managed to get by and become a better designer in the process. But the dog-eat-dog mentality of Corporate America really started to weigh on me. It got to the point that I had trouble sleeping at night and was stressed about 90% of the time. My quality of life plummeted in a crazy downward spiral and my main way of dealing with it was an ugly girl cry and asking God why I was still there. It was very unpleasant, to say the least.
Then, after an unfortunate event, I became the scapegoat for some coworkers. And I heard the Lord tell me it was time for me to pack my things and leave. So I did. I had nothing lined up next and after a month’s time, I was able to find another job (praise be to God).This job was basically the complete opposite of the first. It was very slow paced and I was able to design with ease. I knew after a period of time I would get bored and need to move on but in that moment, I needed something that could help me chill out. I needed a place that I got to leave work at work and didn’t have to think about it until I clocked in the next morning. After about a year into this job, I started feeling antsy. This job was not one with much creativity and there was no moving up in this position. It was very repetitive and I began to feel like I might go insane from always doing the same cycle every three months. But one of the great things about it was that I started to dream for myself. I started (what was LONG overdue) to ask God what I needed to do and where I needed to be. I was tired of sitting behind a desk and not enjoying my work. If I’m going to spend the majority of my waking hours doing something, I should at least enjoy it, right? I sound like a true millennial, don’t I?
All I knew to do was pray and seek God’s guidance. I asked why I was never happy in these jobs and what was wrong with me when it came to working at them. I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t seem to be okay with them. I mean, I was getting to do some form of design at both of them which wasn’t the case for some of my other college design friends. I was blessed to actually find and be hired for jobs in my field. But I really wanted to do things with my hands. I wanted to feel giddy about the work I created. I didn’t want to be glued to a computer screen all the time. I wanted more spontaneity and flexibility in my life and I wanted to feel and believe that whatever I did was making a direct difference for the kingdom of God.
…the people of the city wanted you to walk on flowers wherever you went. And a new dream started to bloom in my heart. I wanted to make things with sweet character like that.
After praying about all of this, I felt like the Lord was telling me to start an online magazine where women get to share their stories of Jesus. I began to dream about it and knew I needed to pursue it. It’s been an incredible experience and when the dream began I believed it was what I needed to do for the Lord. Unfortunately, it’s been somewhat harder than I expected. The way it’s set up to work successfully is by consistently receiving submissions from others and the majority of the time, people are busy and aren’t able to make time to submit something for it. At the beginning of it, I believed it was going to be my main thing, but now, I think I was jumping ahead of the Lord (don’t do this). Although, it’s a huge blessing to run, it’s no longer my “main” dream with Jesus. One of the greatest gifts resulting from this magazine is that I started to see I could do more for God and I didn’t have to work towards someone else’s vision/dream to accomplish it. He would give me my own dream to pursue and grow for him.
In May of 2017, my husband and I went on our first trip to Europe. We went to Barcelona, Spain for our third year anniversary and we had an incredible time while we were there. I fell in love with the beautiful architecture of the city and was mesmerized by Antoni Gaudi’s work all throughout Barcelona. One of the details I loved most about it was the city’s flower tiles that seemed to be almost everywhere I walked. This simple flower design added this unique aesthetic that I wanted more of in my life. One of the stories behind the tiles was that the people of the city wanted you to walk on flowers wherever you went. And a new dream started to bloom in my heart. I wanted to make things with sweet character like that.
In the United States, we tend to throw buildings up and try to immediately make as much profit as possible out of them. Architecturally speaking, the last thing America seems to care about is the aesthetic beauty that brings forth a unique character. Unless, of course, you go back to the days when America first started to become America. Those people had better taste when it came to building and home design.
So I came home asking the Lord if this new dream was mine or his. If I were to pursue it, it was going to be a big financial investment and I really had no idea how I’d be able to pull it off. I had told a friend about this new dream of mine and how I’d need a kiln and all sorts of other expensive things and how this was likely not going to work out for me. After a few weeks, I got a call from this friend who excitedly told me she saw on her Facebook newsfeed that one of her friends was giving her 20-year-old kiln away. On top of that, it had never been used. If I was willing to go pick it up, it was mine. I don’t know about you, but I believed that God was telling me in that moment that this was his dream for me. Not just mine. I pretty much cried and began the process of making this ceramics dream happen. It reminds me of 1 John 5:14 (TPT) which states, “Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before him, for if we present any request agreeable to his will, he will hear us.”
Within the past month, I’ve left my day job to pursue this dream head on and start a business where I create tiles and other home goods in hopes to bring back the beautiful character and aesthetic that modern America has seemed to leave behind. Our God creates beautiful things and so, with my hands, I pray I can do the same in his holy name.
Friends, if you’ve read this God story, I have an exhortation for you: If you have a dream of any kind, I urge you to ask the Lord if it’s his or yours. Then wait for the Lord; he will tell you! And if your dream falls in line with his will, DO NOT let the enemy tell you that you’re unqualified, that it’s too late/you’re too old, or anything else that will steal this dream away from you. You are none of those things. If God has called you to pursue a dream, be obedient and pursue it in faith knowing he goes before and behind you! He knows the glory that will follow it and I know without a shadow of a doubt he will be glorified through the gifts/dreams that he’s given you. Be encouraged that our sweet Lord is with you every step of the way. He’s never let you down before, why would he start now?
Chloe Townsend is an Arkansas native living in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. She lives with her husband, Caleb, two cats, Gatsby and Valentine, and baby girl pup, Rey. In her spare time, she likes to read, create, drink coffee, play soccer, write, pray to and worship Jesus, and hang with her wonderful friends and family.