Together Forever
For kids, dreaming big dreams about their future is easy. The only thing standing in the way is time. Kid’s dreams are not about skills, or opportunities, or even practicality. Those things come much later. If you haven’t taken the time to talk to a child about their future dreams—you should. As we get older we sometimes forget that dreams fuel our hopes—and that's something we all need.

My grandson hopes to be professional soccer player. His dream got a bit more real when his Boys and Girls Club was invited to the Sounders Football Club to participate in pregame activities with real professional soccer players. He got to dress the part and walk on the field. No doubt, his dream became a bit more real. 

As a fifteen-year-old, he dreamed of helping the plight of immigrant farm workers. Read on to see how God not only helped him do this, but do it in an amazing way.

While the two vitriolic sides in the immigration debate continue to battle over amnesty and sealing the porous Mexican border, there is a third side that DC politicians should check out. They’ll need to visit rural Walla Walla County in the “other” Washington. With over 6000 acres of fruit orchards, farmer Ralph Broetje has a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) immigration mindset—he knows that when Christian faith and business are combined on a single mission, God shows up.

In the 1980’s when Latino workers came looking for work at his orchard, Ralph Broetje didn’t just hire them; he got to know them. When the season was over, he and his family followed them back to Mexico to find out where they lived and what challenges they faced. That trip changed the lives of the Broetje family and in the thirty years since, it has changed the lives of hundreds of Latino farm workers—as well as thousands of impoverished lives in other countries.

“Treat aliens living among you as native born” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Ralph Broetje will be the first to point to God for his phenomenal success as one of the largest privately owned apple orchards in the United States. But something revolutionary is happening too—Broetje is re-investing his “first fruits” in people. Farm families are able to build lives here in America. Seeing the need for childcare, Broetje built an on-site daycare. To make it affordable, he subsidizes the cost and workers receive $5000.00 per year to help pay for it. Older children can take advantage of Vista Hermosa Elementary—a school created for the needs of Latino students—offering extended days and year-round school.

Affordable housing with ample yards and nearby playgrounds, welcome those who desire to settle. For seasonal workers, over one hundred immaculate and well-appointed cottages are available. Ralph Broetje and his family include their year-round employees in an annual 5% equal distribution of profits. He generously offers employees and family members computer literacy courses, scholarships, ESL classes, social service outreaches, and youth summer camps.

And then, Broetje Orchards donates 50% of their profits to help those in need around the world. Broetje’s Vista Hermosa Foundation has donated $50 million over the past two decades to help rural and agricultural development, education, and leadership training in developing countries.

Immigration is more than fences and legalese—it’s about real people. Ralph Broetje knows this fully.  How? By getting to know the people who’ve come to work in his orchards. He also knows that US farms need these workers. He’s dedicated his life’s work to giving hope and a future to people who deserve the kind of opportunity we’ve enjoyed. And he’s proved that investing in people works. So Congress, why not take a tour of his amazing operation—the vision of one man, his family and a WWJD immigration mindset that’s been abundantly blessed by God. 

Ever sit down with a book and feel like it was written by someone you knew? And even better, while you were reading, it was as if you were sitting with a good friend, talking about life? Author Deanna Nowadnick brings readers into a cozy place where you can consider all the things that can go right, go wrong, go perfectly well, or just go utterly crazy on our life's journey.

Chapters that correspond to Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control take you on Deanna's journey. As you join her, you'll find yourself reminded of your own journey too. Looking back, you'll be reminded of your growth, your highs and lows, and seeing God's work in bringing you where you are today. 

Refreshing, inviting, thought-provoking, and delightfully encouraging, you'll thoroughly enjoy Fruit of My Spirit. If you're like me, you'll end up buying books for friends so you can share a warm-hearted look at our wonderfully messy, undeniably confusing, and awesomely blessed lives we can have.

I'm already anticipating Deanna's next book! Her writing dream is now a reality and many readers are thankful she followed her dream and is using her God-given talents.

For Merri McDonald very good coffee is just part of a very good day. Merri knows two powerful things: how to make the best espressos and bring smiles to weary faces. Hard working, committed, and willing to give up her own resources to believe in her dream—Merri opened the Garden Espresso and Gift store. Situated on a pristine spot along scenic Highway 101, Merri greets every traveler with a smile, encouragement, and the best coffee around. Even if the day isn’t perfect, Merri delivers a perfect beverage in a heavenly spot. Like a good friend, coffee can warm the inside and help things begin the feel a bit better. And when it’s brewed by Merri, it also comes with a smile, a heart of love, and God’s blessings.

Tell someone your hopes for the coming year. Share your ideas, your dreams, and your vision for what you’d like to see happen before this time next year. Carve out time each day to review your plan. Each week accomplish something tangible towards your effort.

And then watch your dream come to life.  If it’s music, share it with others. If it’s art do the same. Writers need to blog and gardeners need to grow. We may have different dreams, but we all share a vision to see them come true.

We have a whole year—starting tomorrow. 

Sometimes dreams are about being healthy. Perhaps your dream is a better diet and more exercise. When you’re young it isn’t as much a concern perhaps. But your body keeps score and one day you may lose—and I don’t mean lose weight.  The top diseases that shorten our lives are mostly preventable.

So maybe as the final weeks of this year wind down, you may want to take a walk and talk to yourself about your dream for a healthier you.  Eat well, build an exercise program, and see how far you can go towards your healthy dream. Chances are you’ll soon have more energy and be feeling your best. And having your health and strength will be the perfect fuel for those amazing dreams you want to make a reality.

Sometimes the best dreams are those we give to someone else. Conward Farris has a lifetime of giving away dreams. As an educator and elementary principal, Conward dedicated his life to serving others. His passion was children and helping them discover the joy of reading. Throughout his career, Conward would spend hours after school helping struggling students. For those students, it made all the difference in their future. Having a strong foundation they went on to junior and senior high school and made their way into their careers.

Conward's personal dream was to have a reading clinic using his tried and true reading strategies. He knew the connection between reading and life long learning. He hasn't had a chance to open that clinic yet--but we are hoping he will write a book with his successful strategy. Sharing his insights is just one more way of giving his dream to others.

Thousands of students' lives intersected with Conward Farris. The stories vary, but each student knew an honorable, kind, thoughtful, and genuinely helpful man. He gave each one a chance for their own dream. Giving dreams to others is one of the most amazing gifts there could be. Don't you agree?

Alyse knows about sustainability. She’s studied cities and understands the complexities of balancing growth with respect for the environment. Educating others about why it’s important to evaluate the building choices isn’t easy—but it is important to us all. 

For Alyse, her dream is to build smarter—and leave open spaces to share with neighbors. This invites a sense of community that harkens back to the days of closer neighbors and sharing not just a cup of sugar, but also life’s burdens and blessings. Check out Alyse’s blog for her latest ideas that truly are some of her heart’s dreams.

It’s one thing to make plans; it’s another to make them happen. Pick a project that you hope to see completed. Number the steps. Get a calendar and give those steps a timeline.  Now the project has gone from a dream to a goal. Goals are dreams with an action plan—and they are far more likely to see fruition.

Tommy wanted to build a small forest retreat. From his first rough sketches to scale drawings to hauling heavy pails of concrete to the site—he’s been working his dream. Very soon his dream will be a reality. So don’t delay—make those plans, number the steps, give yourself a timeline, and see it happen. 

Sometimes we choose where we want to live; sometimes we don't have the choice. Yet we always have the choice to live well wherever we are. A life well-lived means that no matter where you may be, your time in that place makes a difference to those around you.

Some day you may move--and then you want to look back and know that you left it better than before. That's the beginning of a legacy. And that's the best way to live while living right where you are.