The Difference Between a Dream and a Call


It’s my second manuscript deadline in three months. I’m thinking that’s probably not normal, but when God moves, hold onto your hat.

Be careful what you pray for? Absolutely not! Just be ready when God says, “Yes.”

Writing is therapy for me. I always learn so much in the process and often answer questions of my own as I type. One such answer came as I wrote the final chapter of A Mary Like Me. It’s not about a Mary. But it is about our dreams and callings which A Mary Like Me was written to encourage.

. . . here’s the excerpt:

A Rocket Scientist

In fifth grade I dreamed of sending my friend, Delynn Dudenhoeffer, to the moon—not because I didn’t like her; she dreamed of being an astronaut.

I didn’t desire to venture into outer space, but it sounded really cool to be the scientist who helped others fly there. I loved the stars and science. My teacher, Mr. Quinner, opened up the night sky to my eleven year old brain. That’s when I fell in love with those twinkly things on black velvet whose mystery beckoned me to something greater. I loved sitting outside with my dad on warm summer nights under a canopy of stars. We’d drink cold glass bottles of coke and find the constellations.

I loved the heavens.

But math wasn’t my best subject and the other science classes after fifth grade were focused on the earth rather than space, so my dream waned until it extinguished completely. I’ve never ached to have that dream restored. But it was fun to have it while it lasted. Dreams give us joy. Some dreams are easy to dismiss or let fade into oblivion, but when a dream is accompanied with an ache—if a piece of your heart dies when you give it up, I believe it is more than a dream.

It’s a calling.

Some of us have buried our callings because we were told we couldn’t do what we believed God called us to. We’ve questioned if we heard Him correctly when doors slammed in our face, and we’ve concluded that we didn’t. We grieved when this happened.

I was grieving on those North Carolina sands twenty years ago. Looking back, I know that the inability to remember dreams fed that grief, but the heart of the matter was much more than dreams, it was a buried calling.

Callings manifest differently for each of us. Mine was a picture that flashed in my mind and my spirit simultaneously after a long time in prayer. I still remember the vision as if it were yesterday though I was a freshmen in college seeking God’s direction.

In the vision I stood in front of a wooden altar much like the one in the tiny Methodist church I attended as a little girl. I wore a clergy robe, and I was holding a Bible. No loud voice shook the room, but I immediately knew that God was calling me into full time ministry—pastoral ministry.

I called my parents. They weren’t as excited and told me to get a real college degree. I phoned a friend, who I thought would celebrate my vision, but she asked me what denomination I planned to preach in. I didn’t know that women weren’t allowed to preach in some churches. It had never crossed my mind or my spiritual radar that the verses in the Bible about women being silent were applied in our modern era. Her reaction surprised me. I thought that if anyone would understand my calling to preach, she would. Those were the first shovels of dirt thrown onto my calling.

Four years later, I found myself teaching middle school Language Arts and attending a church that didn’t let women do anything in the worship service—anything. I tried to agree with their doctrine. I even appreciated their simplistic interpretation of the Bible—a very black and white perspective. I buried my calling deep and shoveled some more dirt on top for good measure.

But God knew there was something beautiful lying dormant in that seed for twenty years. And He knew that His visions and dreams for me were more wonderful than any I could create. All I needed to do was surrender (plant) the dream and worship.

. . . . My friends, He is faithful. He made you and me with our quirky personalities, grit and grace for purposes beyond our imaginations. There are dreams and callings inside of you yet to be uncovered, watered, and fed. Be patient. If your dreams are silent, if the call hasn’t come . . . wait on Him. Make Psalm 37:3, 4 your mantra and mode of operation. In the meantime, even if you don’t have it all figured out, join the Marys.

You know you fit right in.

(excerpts from A Mary Like Me to be published by Leafwood Publishers spring of 2016)

Have you buried a calling? If so, I pray my story will encourage you. I did get to experience my call as a pastor for a few short years, but then God had something greater in mind. Never could I have imagined my flock would be readers.

Thankful for you,




. . . .





  1. This is beautiful, Andy. I think my “ache” got buried for years, not because anyone was telling me I couldn’t do it, but because I kept expecting someone else to tell me where to begin. Once I stopped expecting direction to come from others, I finally gained the courage to wobble towards the ache holding no one’s hand but His.

    1. That’s beautiful Terry. We are often our biggest obstacles. So glad you’re going for it! Even if it’s a wobble. :)

  2. Oh this will preach, girl. That’s for sure. I’m so blessed by your encouragement. When you talk about a dream with an ache being a calling, I really get that. I’m really looking forward to your book! I’m going to pin this post and share it at Planting Roots.

    1. Thanks Ginger! I know you know that ache! Blessings!

  3. Beautiful and powerful words. Congratulations on the two deadlines. I found Word Weavers here in Charlotte. Met Tonya and your name came up. I am keeping on keeping on… with “the Call.” Praying for you and your work. God is so good.

    1. I’m so glad you connected with Tonya! and the Charlotte WW! Yay! Yes, keep on keepin’ on, Margaret. You go girl!

  4. Love this Andy! And I can’t WAIT to read the book:-)) And see you in a few weeks at FCWC!

    1. Thanks Heather! I look forward to seeing you in Florida!

  5. sondradron

    “Surrender… and worship.” That spoke to me. Just when you think you’ve got it all surrendered, God shows you something else. Thanks for the words, Andy.

    1. Surrender is often the hardest but the sweetest place to be, Sondra. Love you!

  6. Cheryl Johnston

    What an absolutely beautiful post, Andy. I could so sense the Holy Spirit’s presence as I read of your journey into your calling. Thank you for encouraging us today…I know that the folks in Brandon Christian Writers and Lakeland Christian Writers (and Word Weavers Tampa) and many of my other friends will appreciate reading this one. Thank you, Lord, for helping us each to love Your Word.

    1. Thanks Cheryl! So blessed to know you could sense the Holy Spirit’s presence. Thanks for sharing too!Looking forward to meeting all those writers and you! :)

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