I am unsure whether it’s the sunlight streaking between the slats in the blinds or the sound of activity downstairs that has caused me to stir from what had been a fantastic night’s sleep. Not so long ago I just didn’t sleep, and when I did I just had nights filled with crazy, crazy dreams. I’d wake up feeling like I’d done a day’s work while I was asleep. But these days, it’s all so different.
Yes, it was tough at the time, but it was worth those stress-filled and frantic times to get to this place.
A quick glance at the clock tells me that my alarm would have been rousing me in just a few minutes in any case, so I decide to take those few minutes to rest in my own thoughts and ease myself into the day.
As I lie in bed listening to the sound of Kate still sleeping – she always could sleep through just about anything – I am almost overwhelmed by a sense of gladness for the life I have. And I remember that I haven’t always had that sense of gladness.
I think back just those few years from that time not so long ago, again, it’s hard to believe that we have arrived in this place. I know this is not the final destination, but this is definitely the right place for right now. As we journey through this place we are moving to that bigger picture, that destination on the horizon, and that feels good.
It’s funny when I recall the longing for a quiet life: a place in the country and not a care in the world; in fact, anything just to take away the strains of that no-man’s land we seemed to inhabit for what felt like so long.
I dreamed of a nice house with all of the comforts, and no need to run or strive anymore. It wasn’t that I wanted a nice house, particularly, it was just that somehow that came to symbolise a life without any of the trials we were facing at that time. We had just become so tired, so drained; life was fast becoming more akin to existence.
But that dream of a better world would not die. As much as I tried to block it out, shut it out, stab it to death, it would not stay down. It just kept on rearing its head.
And, right here, right now, I am so glad it did.
It’s funny because now we find ourselves busier than we have ever been, and still living in exactly the same house we were in as we picked our way through that no-man’s land, rather than in some idyllic countryside setting without a care in the world and a lazy pace of life. But, now, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The sense of fulfilment that we have today could never have been delivered by any other means. And, while there was a time that we railed on God for seemingly every moment of every day, we now see that those days were shaping today. And for that we thank God every moment of every day.
Finally, he has led us into the vision he placed in our hearts. Finally, it feels like we are home.
My alarm sounds its ‘Get Up Now!’ command and I swing out of bed and wander downstairs to get the day going. The kids are engrossed in their respective activities and manage to grunt something in my direction: I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s ‘Good Morning’.
They are fantastic kids who put up with a lot in that period when Kate and I seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis as we tried to figure out where God wanted us to be. Although we would never have wished that period on them, looking back it taught them a lot; and the heart we see in them today was, at least in part, gently moulded during that time.
They may have different expressions of what lies in the essence of their soul, but their passion for the lost, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, is incredible and shines through them both.
The way they just follow their dream with no apparent regard for what the world thinks, or what dangers may lurk ahead, scares me. But, at the same time that lust or life that I see in them fills me with such a sense of completeness. They are living the life I longed to live for nearly forty years but didn’t have the courage to step into. They won’t have those wasted years. They are kids, but already they have lived life, and with each day they wring more and more out of it.
It seems that the kids have already fixed their breakfast, so I head straight for the coffee maker and get some coffee going. I’ve got a pretty full-on day today.
First up is a meeting at an organization we have been working for quite some time, regarding some potential new funding streams and a potential delivery partnership, followed by some planning for the year ahead in the joint projects we have in the USA. I think I am going to go out again this year, but I’m not sure when.
It’s always a buzz to visit this organization – to see the work they are doing first-hand, and to get alongside the guys and girls on the programmes there.
These are the people that make me jump out of bed in the morning. These are the people who make every struggle to get this vision going worth-while. These are the people we are fighting for. To hear their stories, to see them puff with pride at gaining their first ever qualification, to look into their eyes and see a little less pain than hid behind them yesterday. That’s what this is about. That’s what I’m about.
From there it’s going to be back to base for a lunchtime get-together with some of the local third-sector organisations that we are working with to try and develop a coordinated approach to tackling the issues and injustices in our city. Again, this is a meeting to talk about fund-raising, and to try and see how we can start to extend the model to bring in more partners and get more joined up.
Then I’m off to see a prospective customer for the ‘Vision Values Purpose’ series of workshops. I could do with landing this one as the income would be useful. Plus, this guy is such a visionary, but he doesn’t know it and he has no idea where to start. I’d love to work with him and play just a small part in helping him to unlock that vision and unleash his potential.
I’m so glad we put that as our strap-line – unlocking vision, unleashing potential.
If possible, I also need to squeeze in a few calls to set up some meetings with some prospects coming out of the Toolbox project.
Finally, I need to catch up with the guys at the local Acaemy to discuss a new initiative for outreach education, and see how we can get that running.
Hopefully I’ll be through by about four because I’m behind with my writing, but it’s no biggie if that doesn’t work out.
I also need to start putting some time into developing the vision for our charity. We know what it is in outline, but I need to get it worked out properly, so we can start sharing it. That’s always a nervous time. A vision is safe and sound until you let it out of the bag – people will always look to shoot it down in flames.
Maybe this will be different, though – we are already doing the stuff, so it’s going to be a lot harder to pull apart. I’ll have to see how the day goes, though – I need to be able to think clearly for that.
It’s going to be a pretty pressured day, but I love this type of work. It’s fantastic to think that I am involved in a whole heap of projects that are genuinely and positively impacting people’s lives.
There is still a way to go until we are in a position that Kate and I can give away all the time we want to for free, but we are moving in that direction, bit-by-bit. I spent years asking God to give me time, time that was bought and paid for already and could just be invested in visions to bring hope to those with no hope at all, love to those with no love at all, and to stand up for those who could not stand at all. And, for years I had to take day rates that didn’t even pay the bills if I worked every day of every week of the year.
That whole thing felt like I was moving further away from that ambition, and yet here I am, able to give 40% of my time away and edging ever closer to the target of at least 75%.
It’s a lovely morning, so I go outside and unfurl the awning. Sitting on the patio with my coffee and the morning paper (well, my morning e-paper), listening to the sound of the wind through the leaves, I am aware of just how much bigger life is than my own story. And I suddenly feel small, yet hugely significant.
God has many ways of keeping me grounded, and as I contemplate all that the day has in store, he reminds me that I am just an instrument in his hands, and not the orchestra. I smile to myself and thank him for choosing to use me when he has so many better options at his disposal.
Coffee finished, headlines scanned, a quick glance at my watch tells me I need to get going, so I retreat upstairs to get sorted to go out.
Kate is up and about and getting ready to get stuck into her projects. It’s been an amazing journey for both of us, but she has really come alive in these last couple of years. I think she finally believes in herself. It’s like she’s thrown off the shackles of the past and stepped into a new skin. She’s always had a brightness about her, but now there’s a vibrancy that is compelling. I didn’t realise it, but she’s over at the same location as my first meeting, too, so we can travel together – that’s an unexpected bonus.
The day flies by and with each encounter I feel an energy. Far from draining me, applying myself this way brings me to life and seems to fuel me ever-more strongly. I didn’t get chance to look at the charity vision, but I did get a couple of hours writing in – which also doubled as an opportunity to check out the new indie coffee shop in town (and very nice it was, too).
I arrived home to find that the kids had just returned and that dinner was just about ready. Perfect.
Catching up with each other over dinner was great. The kids were full of ideas about a new project they are going to push through their youth group. I love seeing the ‘can-do’ entrepreneurial spirit that is just bursting out of them.
I wonder if we will ever fulfil that part of our dream that sees us moving, and doing this stuff, over in the States. There is a part of me that can’t let go of that, and I can’t help feeling that if we could just do that, their spirit would soar to levels it will just never reach here. I throw that one at God, again, and acknowledge before him that we are so very lucky to be right here, right now, and make a promise, again, that my focus will be here until we are not here, and the time when we are not here lies in his hands.
Dinner over and neither Kate or I managed to get a word in edgewise, but that doesn’t matter because it was so much fun listening to the kids. I love how their dreams are so unconstrained. Awesome stuff.
I need to make a few calls to the States to wrap up a few loose ends with a possible trip we are making in a few months to hook in with our old friend and mentor. It’s going to be great to go back there. It’s where it all started and it’s still an oasis.
Maybe it’s a bit extravagant, but when I think about how our vision always seems to have a new chapter unlocked each time we go, and how we always come up with heightened clarity, increased determination and a whole new level of vitality, I know it’s the right time and the right move. We need to move things up a gear, and we need the input and wisdom we get from the guys over there, and we need to recharge, if I’m honest.
Once the calls are done I glance at my calendar and see the 5-minute warning for my next appointment. This is my favourite appointment each day. In my calendar it simply says “Us Time”. It’s the time of day that Kate and I give to each other, come what may.
Sometimes we just sit and pray together, sometimes we watch a movie, sometimes we sit and talk. Sometimes we do a bit of all of that. Tonight, it’s a chance to catch up with each other. A bottle of Cleanskin Barossa Shiraz has been breathing on the side, a real treat and one we can’t afford too often. I pick up two glasses, bring the bottle through and sink into the sofa next to Kate.
Today has been a good day. There were times when I believed this day would always be a dream that was just out of reach. And yet here I am. Following my passion, living out my vision, seeing my dream become a reality.
Can it get better than this?
I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother. I am a leader. I am a follower.
But, more than that, I am Andy White: Firestarter, Misfit, Revolutionary, Visionary.
Learn more about what makes me who I am – the good bits, and the bad – here.
Live a Big Life is part of the i58 Group, a genuine social enterprise hell-bent on changing the world one life at a time.
Working across the entire spectrum of social demographics – from those engaged in destructive lifestyles battling with addiction, poverty, criminal behaviour and homelessness to chief executives of large organisations – we help people discover and become the person they were meant to be.
You can see our manifesto here.
Websites are great, and social media goes a step further, but nothing beats an actual connection with someone.
So, if you are interested in the Big Life, if you think there may be something in it for you, or you just want to find out a little more about what this stuff is all about, then contact us and let’s have a conversation.
Drop us an email at andy[at]i58group.org and we can start talking.