Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Rediscovering My Dream

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From Jeremy: This is a guest post by Jon Stolpe. He is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports.  Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids.  Connect with him on TwitterFacebook or his blog.

It was almost two years ago that my wife and I were making final preparations for the missions trip of a lifetime to Nairobi, Kenya.

A Painful Death

As we finalized our packing list and visited the doctors for our immunizations, the wheels began to fall off our plans. My wife was starting to deal with significant anxiety issues and her health began to deteriorate. We wrestled with a decision we dreaded.

Should we go on this trip and risk health problems in an unfamiliar country? Or should we cancel the trip and miss out on this adventure?

We canceled our plans with just a few weeks until take off, saying no to our dream of overseas missions. It also meant facing the uncomfortable task of telling generous donors that our plans had to be changed and that we could not return their donations.

I was embarrassed. I was frustrated. I was scared. I was probably depressed.

Despite these feelings, I knew we had made the right decision. Within several weeks, my wife’s health required a hospitalization.

My struggle switched from focusing on the disappointment to keeping my head above water and finding a way to lead my family through dark and scary waters.

We managed to survive, but my dream didn’t.

photo by Salim photography (Creative Commons)

A Slow Recovery

Over the course of the next several months, my wife’s health went through a long recovery and restoration process. We slowly re-involved ourselves in local service opportunities with our family.

It wasn’t overseas missions, but it still mattered.

This passion spread out into the rest of our home. This year, our daughter was eligible for her first high school missions trip. Going to Guatemala became a clear focus for her. There was no stopping her decision or her pursuit to raise funds for the trip.

Little did I know that God would use my daughter to help me rediscover my dream of overseas missions.

This spring our youth pastor asked me to go on the trip as an adult chaperone. I once again struggled with the decision to go on a journey which would take me so far from home.

Would my wife and son be okay while I was out of the country for over a week? How would I raise the funds to make such a trip?  Was I ready to experience the poverty of Guatemala?

Rediscovering My Dream

Answering these questions has become a huge part in my re-learning to take this leap of faith.

My wife and my son assure me that they will be fine while we’re away this summer. And it became clear that God would provide in bigger ways than I could imagine when a friend stepped up to donate the funds.  In addition, my friend also put a large dent in the cost of building a house in Guatemala.

To date, readers of my blog have banded together to pay for nearly 70% of the cost of one house which we will build on our trip. I have been blown away by the generosity of my readers and by God’s faithfulness and provision. (For more information on this project, you can click here.)

What seemed like an impossibility two years ago, has become my reality today.

As I move forward towards this trip which departs at the end of July, I am excited to have a passion reignited for overseas missions. I am learning to dream big again. And I am amazed to see how God responds when we take a leap of faith.

When we cancelled our trip to Nairobi, I doubted that I would ever get another chance to do what I dreamed about. Circumstances might delay or slow down the process of getting there. But our dreams don’t have to die if we choose to keep them alive.

Having gone through tough times helps me to appreciate this new opportunity that much more.

Have you seen your dreams fall through? You can leave a comment by click here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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35 Replies

  1. Thanks for sharing this post with me today, Jon. I couldn’t be more excited for you about the trip. All of this waiting and overcoming will be worth it.

  2. Thanks, Jeremy – for the encouragement and the opportunity to share my story!

  3. Jon: Hi, it’s me, your friend Michael Shaw. I hope you don’t mind me coming here on your friend’s blog. 

    As usual, I am going to play the contrarian (or as we say, the devil’s advocate). When I read this story, the miracle that I see here is not that you were able to keep your dream of an overseas mission alive but that you  kept your family intact through a dark and difficult time. When live in a society where families fall apart and men walk out over much less. That you kept your family together is what makes you the hero in your story.

    People in third world countries like Kenya and Guatemala live with poverty and disease, but generally have much stronger family and community ties. In suburban America, we have all the food, comforts and medicine we need but family and more generally social existence has fallen apart for many people and the role of husband and dad often loses its meaning. 

    Jon: You not only have a mission in third world countries, you also have a mission in our crazy society as an example and role model of a husband, father and man who does the right thing.

    Let’s not overlook the less-obvious, day-to-day miracle.

  4. Thanks, my friend.  I appreciate the encouragement.  I don’t discount my “ministry” to my family or my community.  In fact, those two areas hold a much higher priority for me. 

    However, I’m excited about the opportunity to serve in an unfamiliar area.  While I hope to help others, I’m convinced that the trip will be beneficial for me as I continue my life as a person, father, husband, friend, employee, manager, and follower of Christ.

    Thanks so much for stopping here today.  It means the world.  Maybe you can get Brad and some others to stop by as well.  I’d love to help my friend, Jeremy, out with some new readers.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Jon…it’s not easy to go through tough ‘suddenlies.’ I’ve been there, as I was in the hospital for a month last year and then 3 weeks after I got home our 2 teenagers were in a bike accident…so they were in the hospital for a week. I felt like I was barely hanging on to life…to faith. I loved what you said about how God has ways to help you rediscover your dream. I think these past few months have been that for me and for our family. Thanks for sharing…so glad you are headed to Guatemala!

  6. I am too. It took him 2 years, but Jon’s getting to do something he has hoped for a long time.

  7. Wow!  This is awesome, Jon.

    It just proves that when one door closes, another one opens. 

    I am happy that your dream is coming true.  And I am also happy that your wife is doing better and is okay with you going.  That would be a tough, no…impossible, thing for me to do.

    I applaud your courage and ministry.  

  8. Thanks, Michael.  You can keep us in your prayers as we prepare for this trip.

  9. Thanks, Lorna.  Proverbs 3:5-6 has been one of the verses we’ve clinged to through the ups and downs of the past several years.

  10. What an exciting time for you and your family.  Countless times, I thought I had the right time and the right opportunity only to discover that door wouldn’t open.  No matter how hard I tried the door wouldn’t budge.  I tried to kick it in, knock it down, cut through it – and nothing happened.  After I gave up, let go, and let God – the door gently swung open.  It’s hard to deal with some times, but the experience sticks.

    Thanks for sharing your story of struggle. 

  11. I’m really excited for Jon, too. Thanks for sharing your story DS.

  12. Absolutely:  you and your family are in my prayers.  Count on it!

  13. The ability to ‘dream again’ is a huge key in recovering from crashed plans and passions. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jon.

  14. I agree. Jon’s story makes me think back to what I have given up on the last 2 years, but want to fight again for.

  15. I’m so glad your dream is coming true, Jon, even if it’s in a different form than you expected! I look forward to hearing about Guatemala once you get back.


  16.  Thanks, Katie.  I look forward to sharing my journey with others.

  17.  Thanks for the encouragement, James.

  18. That’s a great idea. Jon needs to let us all know about his trip.

  19. Jon, good seeing you at Jeremy’s blog! Enjoyed reading your story and learning more about your life and struggles. 

    I’m excited to see how this mission trip will change the life of your family. If it’s taken this long to breakthrough, there must be something amazing waiting for you. Praying for a life changing experience for you as you embark on this journey.

  20. Sorry about the lost opportunity to travel to Kenya. (am Kenyan :)) It’s a very beautiful country.

    Then again look at how God works. He makes the next opportunity bigger and better.

    Am sure God will do wonders in Guatemala. He has already began!

  21. Thanks, Joe.  I’m working on trying to branch out through more guest blogging opportunities.  This one fit well with my own story.  I’m so thankful to Jeremy and the great commenters for making this experience a good one.

    I too am excited to see how this trip will change the life of my family.  Thanks for your prayers!

  22.  Thanks, Ngina.  Maybe, I’ll make it to Kenya someday.

  23. You have put it well Jon,  –  “dreams don’t have to die if we choose to keep them alive”.

  24. It’s amazing how God works- I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster you all have been on. I know I get  pretty anxious about traveling or having my loved ones travel. My prayers with be with you and your family as you go serve God.

  25. Jeremy, It was interesting to me that you linked your “leap of faith” post to my post.  I wrote a post with the same title a couple of months ago.  Here’s the link:

  26. Great story! Thanks for sharing!

  27.  This sounds all too familiar. Back in 1993 I felt God calling me to start my own company. I assume now He didn’t really want me to start a successful, profitable business. 🙂 As I tell people now, “I tried to be gainfully self-employed. I got the self-employed part down.”

    Seriously, though, had it not been for that attempt I wouldn’t have met my wife of 18 years (as of this past May), nor experienced many other things during that time.

    OK, I’ll admit I could do without not having the cash in the bank that I had at the time. It looks like that was God’s will, too. At least I hope it was.

    Do I still have a dream of working for myself? Not really. I know now that I’m not cut out for such a thing. That’s OK.

  28. Jon, excellent post! I always appreciate your honesty when you write. How exciting to hear of God’s generous provision. I don’t think God has a plan A or plan B, just grace! I’m working to make my dream of traveling to Serbia to visit orphaned disabled kids a reality, your words encouraged me to keep plugging away! I look forward to hearing about your experience this summer!

  29.  Thanks for chiming in, Joe!

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