Book Review – Starting Something New: Spiritual Direction For Your God-Given Dream by Beth A. Booram

by Mark Votava


Living our dreams is so important for us to be fully human.  When a dream dies, part of us dies in the process.  It is so important to cultivate a dream through intentional rhythms that will help us to nurture and cultivate it throughout life.  Bringing something new to life within us can be challenging and messy work.

When a lot of society just lives into the status quo, this makes it hard to discover what is within us.  What is within us may be a dream that others can’t quite see or experience.  So we need to have the courage to let this dream take its shape and create a life in the world.

Beth A. Booram’s book is a guide in the process of discovering a dream within us and finding a way to bring it to life.  She offers guidance to us through discerning, shaping and birthing a God-given dream within us.  The book goes through 14 aspects of spiritual direction: conceiving, brooding, welcoming, discerning, naming, shaping, sorting, changing, waiting, dying, resurrecting, birthing, living and sustaining.  There are also interviews that go along with each chapter to demonstrate a story of how a particular person is living this out in their own life.

She makes it clear that birthing a dream is messy work that takes intentionality on our part.  Booram encourages us to see our dream as significant even if it seems to be small.  It is our unique expression of life so it does not have to drastically move the world in some way.  We will be okay just to bring it to life in small, simple ways that make us more human in the process.

One of the things that really stood out to me was the wisdom provided when everything seems to be falling apart and dying.  She encourages us to take heart in these seasons of life because they call us to pause and rest.  And this is so essential in the formation process.  While it is happening it feels like the death of our dream, but we are not to give up.

Giving up would be the worst thing to do.  So this death causes us to persevere, to wait patiently.  Our dream is taking shape in some mysterious way we cannot know.

I love this book!  I highly recommend reading it because we need more of our dreams being lived out in the world in which we find ourselves.  A dream usually inspires our imagination to new creativity, authenticity and embodiment.  And we discover our true selves in the formation of our dreams within us.

  • God-given dreams are significant

“So God-given dreams are ones that have significance.  But don’t mistake that to mean that they have to have dramatic impact on the entire world to be important to pay attention to.  They may not affect huge numbers of people or solve the world’s most looming problems.  What makes a Spirit-inspired dream so important is that it is deposited in you!  You are the unique receptacle, and you are the only person who can give birth to it – it’s your baby!…”

  • Hard and messy work

“If you have been involved in any creative process… you know that it’s hard and messy work.  You start with the raw materials and your own creative instincts, and then together things just start happening.  And sometimes the outcome takes on a life of its own.  That’s fairly descriptive of what it’s like to make initial sense of a dream.”

  • Only when we are real people

“…only when we are real people do we have something to offer the world.”

  • Beauty is everywhere

“…beauty is everywhere if you have eyes to see it!”

  • A vast assortment of inspirations and imaginings

“Most creative processes are messy and by nature generate a vast assortment of inspirations and imaginings…”

  • We may zigzag back and forth, again and again

“So, as we are involved in the creative work of realizing a dream, we will need to change some of our ideas; we may zigzag back and forth, again and again…”

  • Begin to wonder if death is imminent

“For some, there are times during the gestation of a dream when you begin to wonder if death is imminent.  Your plans are on hold.  You’ve come to an impasse.  The resources you need do not exist.  All your energy’s been spent.  You realize that there is nothing you can do, nothing at all, to move things along or make happen what needs to happen to keep your vision alive…”

  • In order for new potential to be released

“…what of our dream must die in order for new potential to be released?  When our dream goes through a period of dormancy or an actual dying process, it’s possible that there are things about it that need to falter, to change and be sloughed off…”

  • A chance to pause, to rest

“Death, as hard as it is, is a chance to pause, to rest, to put activity on hold and pay attention to the inner work of God…  So, rather than see death as an end or a failure, something to work feverishly to avoid, it can be a time of sloughing off what isn’t you in order for the Christ in you to emerge.”

  • Don’t give up

“If you have been moving through the gestational process of bringing a dream to life, and that dream has appeared to die or at least be in ‘sleep savor’ mode, it can be hard to keep hope alive.  I believe that many who have given birth to a dream would like to say to you, in unison, ‘Don’t give up!’  Just because at this moment in time your dream appears to be lifeless, don’t assume that what you have desired and pursued will not, at some future moment, be revived.  Keep your eyes open for the unfolding evidence of resurrection.”

  • It can be a slow dawning, one that feels tenuous and shaky

“For those of us whose dreams appear to have died, there will be signs of life that signal and convince us of resurrection – but it can be a slow dawning, one that feels tenuous and shaky.  It’s important to be attentive to the signs of life…”

  • Being stretched toward your growing edge

“So as you live into your dream it will be important for you to pay attention to the ways you’re being stretched by your new normal – stretched toward your growing edge…”

  • Developing intentional rhythms

“…it’s important early on to begin to define some important rhythms that protect us from burning out or overextending, from allowing this dream to consume the whole plate of our lives to the point that there’s no space left on the plate for anything else.  Or the portions we give to other important relationships and needs have become much too small.  It’s certain that embracing a God-given dream will affect the whole of our lives: spiritual, relational, vocational, physical and recreational.  And so, from time to time, we need to review and realign ourselves with the priorities that enable us to live a sustainable life as a dream builder.  Developing intentional rhythms and a rule of life is one practice that will help us do that.”  

Do you have a dream that you are wanting to live out?  What is it?