Adventure Ahead

[This post was originally published as part of On the Lookout for Hope, Gracie's senior project. It's very much related to Once and Still, and was part of the journey God has lead us on to where we are today. You can check out more from On the Lookout for Hope here.]

When I was a little girl, I used to think I was a changeling. You know— a fairy child that had been swapped with my parents’ real human child. I thought this because there were times when I would be out in the woods bending down to take a close look at a flower, or catching a bit of cottonwood drifting lazily down to earth, or watching the sun dapples change on a green-canopied gravel road, when I would feel this overwhelming emotion surge through me. It was a strange and wonderful combination of an abundance of Joy, a sense of belonging and home, a feeling of otherness, and a deep longing as it disappeared.

This happened to me mostly in nature, and no one had ever mentioned anything like it to me, so I started to have a vague belief that I was different, and I must belong somewhere else. Hence my belief that perhaps I was a Changeling.

In nature wasn’t quite the only time this happened to me. As some of you may know, I have an incredibly vivid imagination, and when I was a little girl I used to pretend to be different people—and fully take on that identity, so much so that I wore my Peter Pan costume almost constantly, didn’t answer to my own name, and crowed myself hoarse when I was four. I went through other character phases (including Helen Keller and Penny from the Rescuers Down Under), and played at being in plenty of other stories. Often when I was “in” these stories, having an epic adventure in my backyard, I would get that “Changeling” feeling again. It was like I had somehow seen past a curtain for a split second to something that was bigger and truer than what it looked like on the outside.

This “Changeling” feeling isn’t unique to me, or to childhood. When I went to college and began studying the telling of stories, I discovered many others that have felt the same type of thing, although it’s a little different for everyone. C.S. Lewis calls it “Joy.” Frederich Bencher talks of it. It blew me away to discover that I wasn’t alone.  I started searching for more accounts of it, more ways to talk about it. What words do you even use? For a long time I used Gary Schmidt’s “something about being human,” to mark the place of the “Changeling” feeling.

Somewhere along the line I realized—though I didn’t know how to explain it—that it  was God. I still didn’t feel like I had quite gotten to the bottom of it, but it had to do with God.  This seems incredibly obvious to me now, but at the time it blew my mind.

Between my junior and senior year of college, when my anxiety and depression really started getting bad, I started this blog and my senior project, On the Lookout for Hope, to capture some of those hopeful everyday moments that made me feel “something about being human.” Those true little moments that stand out somehow.

I left it at that for several years. Then a few months ago, right when Ethan and I thought we knew where God wanted us for the next year, plans changed. One a long road trip a few days later, we talked once again about our long-term dreams of having a creative business together and what we thought God might be calling us to. As we pondered all this, God started tugging on our sleeves, as it were. We talked about things we were passionate about and gifts God has given us, and over the next few weeks, God kept nudging me to dig deeper into the old “Changeling” feeling, and what He was trying to teach me through it.  We started making actual plans to pursue a creative business together, doing a lot of thinking and praying about what God was calling us to.  I was sure it had something to do with the “Changeling” feeling, but not completely sure what that meant or would look like.

Cue several months of praying, journaling, business classes, and long discussions in coffee shops. There were major revelations, reminders of past lessons learned, and wisdom from friends and family. Slowly, with many revisions, it started coming together for me, and for us.

On the Lookout for Hope has been an important—if sometimes neglected—part of my journey as an artist and a Christian.  It got me through some very, very difficult times. And now it’s time to say goodbye—not to what this blog stands for, but to this particular chapter in my story, and to move on to the next big adventure God is calling Ethan and I to together.

Which is why, starting tomorrow at 10am central time, the url for On the Lookout for Hope will redirect to a brand new blog that Ethan and I will be writing together that builds on everything we’ve started here in ways we could never have imagined. We'll explain more tomorrow at 10am.

Thank you so much, each and every one of you, for all your support and for sticking with me through the life of On the Lookout for Hope. I couldn't have gotten here without you.

We hope you’ll come join us in the new conversation we’ll be starting in this new chapter of our lives.