My friend called me after reading my last Red Tent Living Post.  He is not just any friend, he is my friend whom I trust and love as a brother.  “Hello?” He replied with one word “Hey.”

Silence.   “What’s up?”  I asked.  Awkward silence.

He was struggling to find words to share his curiosity about what I had written. He challenged me with his truth, “You don’t talk that poetically.”  He knows me and my story well – he is a member of my ‘posse’, a word I use to describe a small group of friends that journey through life with me.

The war in my head began and I felt myself start to go AWOL as enemy intruders attacked my thoughts:

AWOL – absent from one’s post but without intent to desert

1920s: acronym from absent without (official) leave .

He noticed and offered his heart through gracious words of excruciating kindness that called me back.  I knew what he shared held truth.  He was right.  I don’t talk that poetically.

If you were to sit with me, I would have no problem at all talking to you straight from my heart and offering my truth, my words and my presence as a safe and vibrant truth seeker and fighter.  But when it comes to putting my ‘self’ and my words on display for the ‘web world’ to see and evaluate, I sometimes avoid what feels hard, dangerous and exposing and opt instead for what feels good and safe.  Though my post on gratitude was and is true and my heart is full from the blessings I and my family have experienced this year, I am also quaking inside with erupting desire to live fully alive into a calling and dream that requires daring hope and risk.

To be real, to really dream vibrantly and with full on hope has required my choice to re-engage with my sweet, brave and courageous young heart.  That young girl was under enemy attack and went AWOL without protection, left vulnerable and in need of help for the survival of myself and my family.   But because I was physically present and seen, nobody knew I was missing in action and lost, my heart and my words tucked safely away behind my physical beauty.

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I was well into my adult years before I noticed my ‘self’ needed recovery and care.

Back to my phone call.

My friend knows my story.  As his words lovingly called to my warrior’s heart, I knew exactly what he was inviting me to.

Pick up my sword, put on my armor, get real, get dirty, live messy and talk about Hope.  Write about it.  Tell about it and dare to desire and dream.

The challenge for me has been in believing that to step into this dream is too big and will somehow cause me to abandon my role as wife, mother, sister, etc.  But that is the lie.

During December, I was invited to participate as an advocate for team Red Tent Living.  Every day I, together with other women, wore dresses in hopes to raise money for Dressember, an organization that offers grants to programs that aid in the rescue and restoration of trafficked victims.  I felt privileged to be on a team of warrior women for a cause near and dear to my heart.

There were days I wondered about putting myself “on display” through Facebook asking for donations.  I wondered “are people sick of me yet?”  “is this too much?”  “will people participate?”

But God met me in my wonderings.  He spoke to my heart through the process.  He is bigger than me and His purposes are for His display and His glory.  Wearing a dress was a small and simple way I could contribute to a cause I believe in.  I was amazed by the generosity and hearts that joined our team to donate funds over and above our goal.

The weight of honor to get to participate in what God is doing in the world of human trafficking feels impossible to hold.  I am asking Jesus to help me hold the honor as I continue to dream and serve together with others whenever and wherever He calls in 2017.

The fight is not over. On my desk is copy of the Red Tent Living Prayer page and 25 prayer pamphlets from the A-21 campaign to invite local prayer warriors into the fight against trafficking.  Also on my desk are precious cards waiting to be written with encouraging words for victims in recovery programs and in my downloads folder is a curriculum from A-21 for young women, “Bodies Are Not Commodities.”

These are small ways I am choosing to help continue the fight in my community with no cost to myself but time.

I have no idea what God will do with my desire, but today, on New Year’s Eve, I am resting at home with my husband and family, more present and thankful for God’s provision of mercy and grace in my life.  Together, we are planning an evening of celebration to welcome 2017.   Though our celebration is anticipated to be fun, there are some heart friends that will not be present.  I miss them so, but I am hopeful and dreaming of that day when Jesus comes and we will all be celebrating together, forever!

Do you feel your desire to dream?  Perhaps you too can find a posse of friends who will dare to speak truth to your heart in ways that will call you to desire and dream!

Welcome 2017.  Come on Jesus!


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.
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