Each one of us wakes up in the morning brimming with dreams and aspirations. We might attribute the source of those dreams in all different directions, but as followers of Christ I believe most of them probably come from the Spirit living and dwelling inside us. Having a dream to accomplish something significant, start something new, or try something out of the ordinary makes you part of the human race. But learning how to bring those dreams to fruition sets you apart from the rest.
Last year Michelle and I moved into a new home with no landscaping in the backyard. We factored this into our purchase price and had the opportunity to build a yard based on the needs of our family. In those conversations my wife Michelle stunned me by suggesting we should build some type of shed for me to have a place to write and work from home. As you might imagine, trying to work from home with the gentle hum of our five-child-chaos can make efficiency difficult. I thought this was a terrific idea but as we looked into it we realized our HOA didn’t allow for this type of structure. But once we tasted that momentary dream it felt difficult to let go of it so easily.
After discussing it more, our idea escalated to the next level and we decided to “sink” the shed a few feet into the ground so the roof would match the height of our walls. Crazy right? But dreams don’t listen to logic. As we started to landscape the backyard we had a hole dug where we wanted the shed to go.
We found someone to build the shed and agreed on a price we thought was more than reasonable for it. Construction was slow since the shed was only part of all of our landscaping to be done. Soon I’d find out that the slow speed was the least of my concerns. We had a concrete slab poured at the bottom of the hole and they built brick walls just higher than the height of the ground around it. We had a paver patio in front.
At some point we started to realize something was off with the construction. We noticed issues with the rest of our landscaping and it was true of the shed’s first phase as well. We couldn’t get on the same page with the person building it for us so we paid for the work done up to that point and decided to pursue someone else to finish it.
That’s when the dream turned into a nightmare.
We received a quote from a new contractor to finish the shed and it was about six times what we had initially thought. We needed to get a few other quotes to figure this out. Three quotes later and all of them were in the same ballpark. Even with this greater expense, they mentioned water issues that they were not sure about until we saw how the structure handled heavy rain. Greater expense plus greater unknown.Â That’s how the “shed” sat for the majority of the last year. We even put our kids’ toy house down there for them to play so at least someone would enjoy the space while we decided.
People who came into our backyard would always comment on it and ask a few questions. The winning joke was that we’re building a custom hot tub down there. I didn’t know what to do. To go forward with it meant committing a lot of dollars on top of a shaky foundation with future questions to come. To abandon it meant letting a dream die. Have you ever been there?
We decided to take it one step at aÂ time. The first decision to make was to fill the hole in. I’ve read enough leadership books to know that there are moments to acknowledge your initial plan won’t work and you need to change course. We would swallow our pride and admit that the original idea didn’t play out the way we wanted. The kids wrote their names on the walls as we broke the top layers off and filled it in with dirt.
We decided to submit a formal request for an above-ground shed to our HOA and see what happened. If they said no we’d rethink that area and come up with some other purpose for it. And if they said yes? That was too good to think about. After getting our proposal we decided to attend the HOA meeting where it would be discussed. We agreed Michelle should try and woo the board in our favor. I was only a little surprised when she came home that night and told me she had actually joined the architectural committee in the process. A few weeks later and shockingly, we had approval. Did I dare dream again?
We built a new concrete slab, laid new pavers for a patio, and hired a trusted friend who normally doesn’t do projects of this nature to build the Costco shed for us. We weren’t just building a shed three feet under our yard that was similar to the Costco shed, we were building that exact shed (with a few modifications) right on ground level. The original plan had come full circle.
Which brings us to now, where I’m currently typing these words from our now complete shed, or writer’s room, or daddy’s office, or whatever else it goes by these days. The last few weeks have been fun to watch, and Michelle even surprised me by having most of it done ahead of time when I was out of town as a surprise. Some people ask me whether she’s okay with me having a room like this and have no idea that she’s driven the process the entire time.
One of the quotes Michelle framed for me comes from one of my favorite stories. It’s a great reminder of what I want to happen in this space.
“Come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned.” J.M. Barrie, PeterÂ Pan
Michelle and I prayed dramatically different types of prayers during this process. Sometimes they were prayers of gratitude, sometimes prayers of frustration, and sometimes prayers for wisdom. One of the consistent prayers was for this area to become a “thin space” where God seems to speak a little louder and be heard a little easier. One of Michelle’s prayers was for our kids to have pivotal conversations with me in this space as they grow up. If God answers either of those prayers for us it will be more than a dream come true.
Some dreams have to become a nightmare before they grow up. If you’re still working on a dream today, hold on and keep going. Push past the nightmares that come for the chance to see the dream come to fruition. The bigger the dream the more likely a nightmare will be involved.