This Christmas, I was rifling through some drawers in my bedroom in search of a gift I must have ‘hidden too well’ when I found a plastic baggie full of small, brown cards. Curious, I poured them out onto my dresser and within seconds remembered a sweet story that happened three years ago during the first Red Tent Weekend Retreat.

The time to gather for the Red Tent Dinner had arrived and I took my seat at a long farm table with women I had known before and others I had come to know while at the retreat. A basket holding small brown notecards with handwritten questions was passed around the table. Each of us drew one and prepared to share a story.

It was an intimate and sacred space as women at the table shared their stories, their tears, their laughter and their responses.

My turn came to share and I read my question aloud, “What would you most like to unwrap this Christmas?”

I paused and took a deep breath to gather my courage and my words.

“I would want to open a computer.”

Plain, simple and to the point. Or so I thought.

I quickly realized my response needed more words to speak my heart. Having been a child who was seen and not heard, I forget at times that other people cannot read my mind and the words I hold inside.

I added more words around my answer…

“I have a dream to write a book. If I got a computer this Christmas, I would begin to write every day in hopes that one day, I might. Not just any book, but a book about my story, dedicated especially to my husband and children because they are the ones who have lived my story with me and I long for them to know that because I have a story, they each have a story too.”

I remember the deep breaths I took in and out to stay present. I remember because the intimacy at the table was a sweet intrusion of truth into a false belief that my longing for emotional connection with women was futile. The responses I received to the story I shared spoke otherwise.

The women were affirming.

They were kind.

They were encouraging.

My heart expanded with the truth and love I received and my dream to write a book did too. I shivered as a friend uttered the final response to the story I shared.

“You know Ellen, all of us have heard your dream. It is out on the table, now. What will you do with it?”

Others joined in. Their faces and their kind voices still urge me forward.

It is three years later. Standing in my bedroom, card in hand, I remembered that evening and the women who sat at the table for the Red Tent Dinner. I hope they read this because I have some updates…

I got my computer that Christmas. I have been writing since then and God has grown my faith and my confidence. There are points on my heart’s horizon calling me forth to more.

And,

this Christmas, I got a new pair of cowboy boots. I opened the box they came in and the words on its cover resonated within me…

“Slipping on your Durango’s gives you a feeling of adventure and freedom. You’re ready to be mischievous, have fun, live a little on the edge and maybe even live dangerously. Durango is not a boot, it’s an attitude…we call it OUTLAW FUN.”

I’m feeling attitude and stepping toward my dream in 2016. I don’t know where it will take me, but I’m ready to live on the edge and have some fun.


photo-4Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 26 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.
&nb