surrendered dreams

June 1999

I spotted it from afar and knew I had to have it. I jerked my car to the curb in a cock-eyed park job and scurried up the driveway before someone beat me to it. I’d say there was no nudging of rival shoppers involved, but I’d be lying.

Three feet from my prize, I lunged for the thing like it was finish line tape. I slapped my hand on its bulging side and grinned. Mine. I snatched up the little beauty, and held it to my chest. Then I spun it around in my hands, turned it upside down and searched for a price tag.


I noticed a young girl collecting money from customers and approached her with my bounty.

“Excuse me,” I said, with a forced air of indifference (age-old garage sale strategy). “Did you have a price in mind for this?” I held my breath, a complete wimp when it comes to haggling. Please say something low, please say something low.

She looked blankly at the object in my hands and turned toward the house. “Hey, Mom!”


“How much is the world?”

I pursed my lips to keep from grinning.

Mom didn’t hesitate. “Fifty cents!”

“Fifty cents,” the girl said, in case I was legally deaf.

I dug into my pocket. Two quarters. It was fate! I pulled them out, flicked off the blue jean fuzz and pressed them into her hand. I walked to my car, clutching my beloved globe, fighting the urge to skip and squeal.

The metaphor was not lost on me, no sir. I had the whole world. In my hands. For 50 stinkin’ cents.

Nine Years Later…

I sat on the living room floor, legs apart, absentmindedly spinning a globe with my fingertips. Look at all the colors, I thought. So many countries. And all that blue. Massive oceans between huge continents. It’s all so… big. Look at all the tiny islands—hundreds of them. What are they like? Who lives there?

My mind drifted back a decade to a 10-week student teaching stint on the island of Okinawa, Japan. I sighed. And longed to go back. That one experience on foreign soil whetted my appetite for globe-hopping—for life. I hadn’t been overseas since.

My eyes wandered to one of many bookshelves in our house. I devour books—all kinds. But especially those written by world travelers, books about pilgrimages to distant lands, stories of missionaries and the people they help.

I craved that for myself and my loved ones. Traveling the globe. Tagging along on an African safari, seeing places Jesus walked, drinking in the stunning green of Ireland, sharing my faith, re-visiting my favorite old Okinawan haunts, kissing babies in third world orphanages.

I had the itch. And no way to scratch it.

Two years after that…

Thank you, God, for this incredible gift. I don’t deserve it. Not for a second. And I know this is about so much more than scratching an itch to see the world. I want you to open my eyes to see where you’re at work, and I want to join you there. Whether it’s across the globe or across the street or across my kitchen table.

Please help me to honor you as I prepare and while I’m there. Help me to humble myself as I ask for support. Help me to surrender all my plans and dreams to you. I’m yours, Lord.

p.s. If you missed yesterday’s post, Gabe and I are going to Cambodia on a missions trip with a group from our church July 7-17. If you’d like me to e-mail you a copy of our support letter, just click here. Thanks!

What dreams do you have? I’d love to know!

13 thoughts on “surrendered dreams

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano | Christian author and speaker » sneak preview!!

  2. alece

    i love seeing people’s hearts for the nations… and yours is no exception! excited for this journey God has you on… that He’s had you for a long time now. praying tonight for Him to show up in unexpected ways as you prepare to go and while you’re serving in cambodia.

  3. Rachelle

    I’m back…have to share this quote with you from english missionary to China J. Hudsom Taylor (1832-1905)
    -this is a call to spread the Gospel.

    “It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the Gospel to every living creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay home.”

  4. Rachelle

    We dream to adopt…not because we NEED more kids(have 4 thank you:)) but for following the command of Christ to care for orphans and widows and show them their worth in Jesus. My heart hurts everyday thinking that our children may be out there in the world simply waiting on us to get our paperwork and life prepared for them to come home. But I believe wholeheartedly in God’s sovereignty and timing. I would say that this dream or calling has always been on my heart for as long as I remember (before a husband and children).

    I dream to be a student of the Word. To really know theology, including eschatology (study of end times). I am doing Beth M’s study on Revelation right now and it makes my heart want to jump out in excitement…i know I am wierd 🙂

    I dream for God to move me out of my current, stressful, job. I am happy to work (all kids are in school), just praying that something changes in this area. I don’t know what that means at this point, but you can bet that God has a plan that I haven’t even imagined.

    A scripture that I recently highlighted:

    “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.” Habakkuk 2:3

  5. Teresa Henry

    I love love love the words….”how much is the world?” The first thing that crossed my mind when I pondered that question was the cost was the Jesus’s death on the cross…The world has been paid for and we get the gift of holding the world in our hands and being ambassadors for God…showing others who He is and how much He loves us! And you Marla, are an amazing ambassador! I can’t wait to hear about your mission trip. I already see your heart being transformed.

    My dream…I just started a not for profit called What Is Beautiful? and my dream is to encourage and educate girls and women to know their worth, value, and identity in Christ. My dream is to make sure people know how much God loves them and that their identity is not in who the world says they should be but in who God created them to be….His masterpiece. My dream is to for this to be what I do…what God has called me to do…and the doors open so that everyday this is my mission…

    This morning I said outloud (in the shower) that I should just give this up and get a full time job…and then I read this post and a devotional and God reminded me…He placed this dream in my heart…He gave it to me as a gift and now I get to live it out. I pray that doors open quickly and I can do this full time…and I can also take care of my family (I am a single mom)…and I never give up even when things seem impossible.

    Thank you Marla for being so real all of the time…I wish I could meet you face to face…I feel so blessed that God directed me to your blog (through my sweet sister).

  6. Denise

    Dreams – ah – I have a lot! 🙂 It would probably take a book to get all of them out of my head – but here are a few:
    To go to culinary school, to go to Cambodia, to adopt, to have another child of my own, to be debt free and have a house…
    If you’d like to hear more – feel free to ask while we are at the play date – I could rattle on for HOURS!

  7. deanna

    “How much is the world?”

    Thank you Jesus for giving us this amazing world that we live in. And thank you Marla for your willingness to go out into the world to share His word.

  8. meghan @ spicy magnolia

    I am stoked that you and Gabe are going to Cambodia! I have a heart for missions and the nations and have had the opportunity to travel overseas on a number of occasions. One of the greatest excitements I have in life is seeing people get to go when they’ve wanted to for so long and to anticipate all that the Lord is going to do in and through them. I’m thrilled to be a small part of this adventure with you!

  9. jess

    i’ve always dreamed about adopting a child or children. (i always said that i wanted one from each continent–or a red, yellow, black and white kiddo. 🙂 right now…that dream is very much on hold and doesn’t seem like it’ll ever come to fruition….however, i’m trusting God…and I know that he’ll use me in some other way if that’s not the choice he has made for my family.

    i love this post–and it has nothing to do with the fact that you mentioned a garage sale….which reminds me…it’s THURSDAY!

  10. Emily Kay

    I’ll definitely be thinking of you while you’re on your trip…that’s right around when Baby #3 is due! 🙂

    Dreams…it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about dreams. I know it’s just the season of my life, but the only dream I have is making it through each day with my sanity intact. 🙂

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