On March 19th, my friend Kathryn emailed me to tell me that she had had a dream about me. I haven't seen Kathryn in years, ever since they moved out of the area, so I was very curious as to what it might have been about. This was what she told me:
I wanted to share a dream that I had last week, and hope that you will find it encouraging... Your husband was throwing you a birthday party. Everyone had gathered in an old barn and it was beautifully decorated. You were in yellow.
You stepped out for a moment to the parking area. Everyone began to sing "Happy Birthday" and there were so many people and so many voices that you could clearly hear them from the far side of the parking area. I'm not sure about all of the details, maybe they will mean something to you. I am sure that God wants to let you know that you are loved, cherished, and celebrated by MANY people. I hope that this encourages you!
I thought the dream was very encouraging and sweet and so I told my husband about it later that morning. As I was telling him about the details, he got this frozen look on his face... like he was completely shocked.
TURNS OUT, Chris was planning on throwing me a big 30th birthday/housewarming party in the BARN, which he wanted to decorate to make it look cozy and cool, and he was going to invite all of my friends. He hadn't wanted to tell me about it because, well, technically the house wasn't even OURS yet. But he was already scheming and dreaming up the details because he had so much faith that the house would be ours, thanks to all of the confirmation we'd had from God about the place.
I was completely baffled. God had given a dream to a friend in another part of the country about a birthday party in a barn when my husband had been planning to throw me my 30th birthday party in a barn!?! I felt like it was just more sweetness from God- reassuring me that the house would indeed be ours in a couple of weeks, and that He had big plans to CELEBRATE with us when it was all said and done. We were meant to close on the house on April 2nd, and my birthday wasn't until the beginning of July. We wouldn't have to be out of our old house until the end of June, so this would give us THREE WHOLE MONTHS to slowly move our stuff and work on the house and get everything ready before the big kick-off party in July. Could the timing of all of this worked out any better?
No. No it couldn't have.
If all of this was not amazing enough, a couple of days later I got a text from a friend. It was from my bestest friend from back home, Rebecca. Rebecca lives in Denver now, and I only get to see her once every couple of years. She told me that she had had a dream about me a couple of nights before... probably on the exact same night that Kathryn had had her dream. She said she dreamt that she came to Oklahoma to celebrate with me, but it wasn't clear what we were celebrating. She said she thought it was possibly a birthday/housewarming party, and it was held in some kind of a dark warehouse room, possibly a barn, and it was all decked out with candles and art and rugs. She said that all of my family and friends were there, celebrating my life with me.
You can imagine my reaction to this text. It included a lot of exclamation points, I will tell you that much.
This was just too crazy to be true. But it was true. Absolutely, undeniably TRUE. Two of my friends had pretty much the exact same dream on the same night about a birthday/housewarming party in a BARN, while my husband had been planning a birthday/housewarming party in the barn of the house we were trying to buy. Now there were only two things left to do:
1. Plan this epic party, to celebrate all that God had done.
2. Start looking for a yellow dress. :)
I will admit, that was one of the FIRST things that came to mind after learning about these two dreams and this party. I mean, you all know what makes me tick, right? I love fashion. I don't really know why I am this way, but it has been this way for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, one of my favorite past times was digging through dirty thrift stores (waaaay before they were cool) to find that perfect vintage t-shirt to pair with those perfect vintage men's polyester trousers. I love quirky, interesting, fun, and unique fashion. But I have a veeeery hard time paying more than $7.00 for something. If I can't buy it at a thrift store, I probably won't buy it. I just don't like spending money on myself. At ALL. (This drives my husband a bit batty sometimes, lemme tell you.)
But this... this was a special occasion. I just had to find a yellow dress! And it just had to be... the dress! This may sound really silly, but I started praying right away that God would help me get a new dress for this epic barn party we were going to be throwing for my 30th birthday. (You know...IF we got the house and all...) Every time I was in a thrift store after that, I would scour the racks for THE yellow dress.
I searched for weeks. And I prayed for weeks. But I just couldn't find it! I started telling myself that I was just being silly, and that I should just be practical and plan to wear something that I already had hanging in my closet. It didn't HAVE to be yellow, after all. If I wore a green dress or a blue dress, the party would still be just as amazing and significant... right?
On April 2nd, Chris and I drove up to the escrow office, signed a ma-jillion papers, and left with the keys to our new house.
It was an emotional experience and an emotional day. After all of those weeks of faith and doubt, elation and despair, dreams and fears... the house was officially OURS!! We drove up there right away and toasted the future with a glass of champagne while watching our boys run like wild things through the yard and back field. Standing there, looking out at our new land, we felt completely humbled and awe-struck. Why had God chosen to bring us on such an amazing journey, and bless us in such a way? Who were we to receive such abundant goodness? Why had God done such a thing for a grumbling Israelite like me?
It felt like holy ground.
It felt like a dream come true.
It felt like a New Day.
Our desire is to freely share this place we've been given, and we're praying that it will be a blessing to others as it has been a blessing to us. And before we've even moved in, we've already been able to host a military wedding and have a family camp out/worship night with some good friends!
This place is going to be AWESOME.
I started writing out this story on that very day that we closed on the house. I knew from the beginning of all of this that God was asking me to tell this story, to write it all out... to record and preserve the blessings that He had poured out on us so that others might be encouraged as well. A few weeks after I started writing it all down here, I got another surprising email. I had not told a single soul about my secret hunt for the perfect yellow dress, but I had told God. The surprising email was from Modcloth.com, my absolute most favoritest online clothing shop in the whole world, and it was letting me know that someone had sent me a giftcard for their store! It was from a friend named Haley, whom I've only met once in real life, but whose photography I have admired from afar for a very long time. She told me she'd discovered a credit on one of her accounts, and wanted to find a way to spend it so she could close it out. She clicked over to Facebook, saw the latest chapter that I'd posted about the house out in the country (which happened to have a modcloth advertisement posted right next to it at the time), just knew I'd need a fun dress for my upcoming country excursions, and bought me a gift card! I was so shocked and I could NOT stop laughing! My yellow dress that I had been hoping and praying for had just arrived in my inbox. (I have yet to find it and order it, but I'm on the lookout!)
I had a moment, after seeing such a seemingly silly little prayer answered in such a way, where I truly believed for the first time in my life, that God... sees me. Me! Emery Josephine Clark. He really does know my heart. He really does know what makes me smile. He really does want to draw that smile out of me and He LOVES to hear me laugh.
And you know what? He sees you too. He knows you. He longs to bless you and pour out His love on you as well. He is the same God. He does not change. He shows no partiality (Acts 10:34-35). Anyone who fears Him and believes in Him has bold access to Him. Ask for more! Read His word and ask for His grace to help you obey it! Be attentive to His voice... in your mind, in your dreams, deep down in your gut, in the pages of your Bible, and through the people He has placed around you.
The close of this story is all set to take place on July 13th, when we will dance and celebrate all the things God has done at the party that He Himself has planned. :) This will be EXACTLY one year from the start of this journey, when the restlessness poured out of me and my husband and I started asking for a new day, around the time of my birthday last year.
What a year it has been!!
I keep coming back to that dream Chris had of my blog, with the picture of my old childhood neighborhood at the top and title of "In Hope of a New Day" written bold above it. The more I dig into this story and write it all out, the more powerful that dream of his has become to me. I grew up on a street called Wintergreen. This new house is on a street called Evergreen. And when I first went out to the new property, I couldn't stop remarking about how much it felt like my childhood home. It felt like... home!! Which is what I've realized I was truly longing for this whole time! God took me on this journey to show me that He is my home, and to strengthen my faith and security in that fact. But then, in His great goodness and mercy, He was kind enough to lead me to a place that truly felt like the home I had been longing for for my family to grow and thrive on all along! Only He could find such a way to take an old longing and turn it into something new... merging my old days with my new days in such a creative and unexpected way.
The God we serve is sovereign over all things.
And so, with tears streaming down my face, I thank Him from the bottom of my heart. And I thank you all as well for reading along and encouraging me as I've recounted this story of the past year of my life. I pray that it will strengthen and encourage you, and that the God of all Hope would begin to fill you afresh with the belief that He is powerful, that He cares for You, and that He will never stop fighting for your heart.