The lights are dark, the curtains closed, Steven is to my right my biggers to my left. The curtains draw back and reveal a lighted stage, the dancers are poised to dance, the music starts slowly, and something unexpected occurs, an awe, and a whoa springs out of the mouth of the crowd, I scan the stage looking for it, and it hits me, it’s my backdrop that I painted that they are marveling about. Instant hot tears begin to stream down my face, Steven’s hand finds mine and squeezes it tight. He leans over and kisses my forehead in the most loving way and wraps his other arm around me. I am undone, tears, and more tears… through the rest of the night… tears, ruining my Smokey eyed makeup… Tears ruining every lie spoken over me since youth. Tears allowing a Mighty God who desperately loves to hand a little girl who dared to dreamed her biggest dreams…. This was not my triumph tonight, but God’s. THIS is what it looks like to boldly live out our dreams.
Ever since I was a little girl I loved to draw, and color. My mother said she knew I was creative when I was about four years old and I drew a picture of her and my father on their wedding day, it was so detailed that I even drew the petals on the flowers. She kept that drawing for the longest time. Growing up I struggled, I had really big learning disabilities, I was severely dyslexic, I had mirror vision, and dysgraphia. My mother saw how crippling it was to me and pulled me out of mainstream school and set me up with a private tutor, she worked with me for a year, straightening out my “biggest” problems, and then back in normal school with an hour of tutoring daily. By the third grade I was reading, but everything else didn’t compute so well. It was like I literally saw things upside down and backwards, it was like my brain was flipped. The doctor said it would be a lifelong struggle, but that I would adapt… It was, I did… But what wasn’t hindered was my ability to draw, in fact I think my seeing things differently HELPED my eye with art.
I grew up liking being alone, I was introvert, I was scared of my own shadow, so I stayed hidden away in my room, just me and my paper. I could create the world I wanted to there, I could control the things that were so out of control in my life there, it was my sanctuary. At age 15, I had dropped out of high school, was veering towards a cliff emotionally, but I was pulled back by the arms of Christ…. My family, they dissolved and I went to go live with my grandparents, which was God’s saving grace. My grandma put me in home studies, I repeated the 10th grade and finished my 11th grade in one year, I walked not at my Alma Mater, but at the closest one there was with the graduating class of 1998 on target.
In my Sr. Year there was a teacher who taught government and life skills, we had to either do a service project or a 50 page report of what career we want to take when we grow up. I took the paper, I had no idea…. Nobody had ever asked me what I had wanted in life, I didn’t even know…. months went by and I ignored 60% of my grade…
My personal life was stabilizing, somewhat, it had volatile moments, one night I was worshipping God and I had a vision, I saw HIS hands. In one was His Holy Word, in the other was my Mother and my siblings. I heard Him say, you are going to have to choose, if you choose me, I will heal all your hurts, if you choose them, I cannot say where you will end up. My mind was set, I chose Him….
Then the moment came, I was painting (shocker) for a luau at church and John my youth Pastor comes up and pulls me aside, “Nichol, you father is on the phone and he wants to talk to you. Take it in my office please.” I follow John and he sits me down in his chair and shows me how to pick up “line 1”. He walks out and closes the door, I stare at the phone clueless as to what is about to find me on the other end. Had I known my vision was about to become real, I may have never picked up that receiver. “Coliebear, it’s your dad.” “Hi,” “What are your thoughts pertaining to Jill?” (His current girlfriend) “She’s nice.” “What are your thoughts about me marrying her?” “Dad, no you barely know her I think you should wait you have only been divorced a month.” “Well, what if I told you that I have been married to her for a month now and didn’t tell anyone? We got married the day the divorce was final….”
Sucker punched, shock, my world swirled for a moment as betrayal crept over me. Even before I could respond a voice interrupted on the intercom, it was the church secretary, Silvia. “Nichol, your mom is on line 2.” “Hang on dad, I need to get this.” “Hi mom.” Instantly an angry voice greeted me. “Did you know your father was MARRIED?!?!!” meekly, I responded “Yes.” “How long has you kept this from me?” “Mom, I didn’t he is on the other line telling me right now.” “Well, your brothers and sister and I are moving to Texas, you are welcomed to come with. I HATE California.” SLAM! She hung up in a fit of rage…. The vision came roaring back to me… and there it was, I was staying….
Life went by, the essay stared me in the face. My teacher realizing I wasn’t on task came to my side, she helped me navigate what I WANTED out of life, and she was a good teacher. She helped me realize that I wanted to work in the Theater. I had it narrowed down to set design or a costume designer. My dream came together in that class, and my life ambition developed into a desire to work at the Old Globe Theater, it was (and is my brass ring). Finally my essay was completed, turned in and upon receiving it back there was a brochure attached to it for a design college. My teacher didn’t want to give up on me. I took that pamphlet home to my grandma, my grandma called my dad, and we set up an appointment.
The design school was EVERYTHING I wanted it to be. It had REAL articles of clothing dating back to the 1600’s, all period pieces even. It was my DREAM College, my father was on board too, that is until we discovered that it was $18K a year. He took me outside and told me no he wouldn’t help. My dreams were dashed, even if I went at it on my own I made 4.75 an hour, I cried and cried. I laid down my dream and buried it there.
But I painted, I didn’t know how, I was never taught rightly, but I tried. I kept at it until someone was foolish enough to ask me to paint their walls. I did and that job led to another, where I really learned. A bored millionaire’s daughter saw my art, liked it and invited me to just paint her home. I did for 3 years straight. We worked a lower wage where I could easily live off of and also make learners mistakes on her walls. It was there I paid the “dumb tax” over and over again. One job led to another, I wedded Steve with the money I earned from painting, I worked 3 jobs to keep the one job painting.
In my faithfulness, I didn’t know I was on the road to my dreams. I was just doing what life had afforded me. A painting job led to another, and then to a friend, who worked as a Scenic Artist at CCT/CYT. I was asked to come on by her as over hire, I think at times I was more hinder than help. I didn’t know theater art, but I was given a quick tutorial, it was all I needed.
A man taught me the saying, “Do what you love until someone pays you to do it.” I followed this advice, I volunteered to paint for anyone and anything, and I was taken up on it time and time again. Still working more than 1 job with children in tow, I was setting my hand to whatever I could.
And then the unexpected in my faithfulness, a job offer at the SDCYB doing what I love, part time, and paid. Even more unexpected was the moment I was googling the back part of the Theater for food deliveries sake and it came up as having its own address on OLD GLOBE WAY…. I laughed at how God had held close to HIS heart my desires all these years, that HE is truly the lover of my soul and how WE are truly more than just conquerors in Him… He took a little girl scared of life and allowed her to live the best life afforded to her. He took every path marked with sorrow, disappointment, and challenge and tied them all together until EVERYPATH led to Him, and HE led me to my destiny. I never set out to be something big in my life, but I did set out to be faithful.
If I could sum up the tone of my life, it would be just one word, Faithfulness… AND if I could leave you with small advice, it would be this, be faithful in all things, whatever you set your hand to do it diligently for the Lord. And If you have a dream, but you are working in a field that has nothing to do with that dream, downshift and redirect…
Now dear reader, this is where I leave you…. in the Hands of a Mighty God. Remember, you dream small dreams for your life, His dreams are much, MUCH bigger… Trust Him, but don’t just trust Him. Trust IN HIM, for He wants to give you every desire of your heart….Remember, He is faithful, if you are faithful…