So your son wants to drop out of college?

"Drop out".  That's such harsh words!  Shouldn't we say, "taking a break"?  Yeah, that sounds better.  After all, he may go back later in the year.  He just needs a break to work things out....to make some career decisions.  And what will people say?  I don't want them looking at him as a failure... because he definitely is not!

These were my thoughts months ago when my 19 year old came to me with a huge burden on his heart. After he finished fall semester, he wanted to be able to pursue some opportunities  that school had not allowed him to do. That would mean dropping out of school.

It all started last summer. We had moved him out of the dorm and back home for his much deserved summer break from his first year of college.  Soon after, he had the opportunity to be in a Six Flags commercial. Right after that, he got a job as an extra in the movie, Endless Love (coming out this Valentine's Day). That's all it took and he was hooked!  He fell in love with the entertainment industry.

I thought it was just a phase.  I was used to him being on the other side of the camera.  Many of you that know me, know just how talented Dillan is as a photographer - and that's what he was in school for (Here's a link to his site).  He was in the Studio Art program (photography concentration) at Georgia State University in ATL.

I have to add, although I am a huge fan of higher education (as I, myself, am a non-traditional student....working on my MA at 43 years of age), I can also appreciate the fact that a college degree is not necessary for every career.  I think it's a plus, but you don't have to have one for certain careers.  And let's face it, some kids just aren't college material.  Their interests have nothing to do with what a college degree entails.  Of course, Dillan was doing very well in school.  I had no doubt that he'd graduate on time as long as he continued to stay in school.

Anyway, it became very evident that Dillan could work all summer in the entertainment industry if he chose. Apparently he's got the look....lol!  His first year in school, he had already been approached by a couple of new designers about modeling for their campaigns.  The fact that he has always wanted to model and photograph models made ATL a great place for him to attend school.  There are so many opportunities for people in this industry right there where he lives.

After a week or so of him driving back and forth to Atlanta from home early that summer, it was clear we needed to go ahead and find him an apartment in downtown Atlanta.  We had already planned to find one before fall semester started back anyway.  Because they are so difficult to find in the downtown area where it's convenient for students to live, we jumped at the chance to rent a loft that came open at the Metropolitan. What made it even better was the fact that he had a friend who already lived there.  So we packed him up and moved him to his first place that June.  That's another whole story in itself right there!  Being the blogger mom (what Dillan calls me) that I am, I photographed the entire thing.  You can go here to see what Dillan's first place looks like.

Dillan worked so much during the summer as an extra on sets.  He continued to work during fall semester as much as possible, but was forced to turn down some great opportunities because of his classes.  That's when the conversations started about taking a break from school in the spring.  Not only because of his crazy schedule, but Dillan began to feel that God was calling him to the entertainment industry as his own personal mission field.  That was never in Dillan's plans and the last thing he ever thought about was acting for a living. For someone who was always shy in school and never really cared to draw attention to himself (until his senior year when he decided to just be who God made him to be and not try to follow the crowd), he was now in love with the whole acting thing.  He feels like it's a God thing because isn't it just like God to call us to get out of our comfort zones sometimes to do things for Him?

Many college students like Dillan attend church at Passion City in Atlanta.  Their pastor, Louie Giglio had been leading a sermon series that really spoke to Dillan's heart.  I can't quote him exactly since I wasn't there, but he reminded them that we are all missionaries.  He spoke to them about their callings and their passions and how to use them for God.  We don't have to go to Africa or be a preacher to be used by God.  God needs Christians in every area of life, in every industry - be it the food industry, entertainment industry, education, etc. - to be a light in a very dark world.  And let's face it, y"all, the whole entertainment industry is a very dark place.  That's why I'm asking you to please remember Dillan in your prayers.  He's already had the opportunity to talk with an atheist on set.  The awesome thing is that the person made a comment that implied that Dillan was different than many other Christians.  He was able to discuss religion and Jesus without coming off as a "Bible thumper" or being forceful with his opinions.  And I have to say that I can see that in Dillan as well.  He's not a judgmental type of person and he is so kind at heart to others - even when they disagree with his beliefs. He has the opportunity to be the Bible that many people will never read.

So needless to say, December was a little difficult for me.  I had persuaded Dillan to register for spring classes when they were able to.  I wanted him to think long and hard over the Christmas break about whether or not he would be making the right decision to stop taking classes at this point.  I encouraged him to continue to pray about it and we prayed as well.  I knew deep down that he had made his mind up, but I wanted him to have the option to change his mind at the last minute as well.  Because his apartment lease isn't up until June, he could even choose to go back this summer if things don't work out.  We can renew the lease and he'll still be living right where he needs to be to get to class conveniently.

But he didn't change his mind.  And you know what?  I'm ok with that.  I'm a little nervous about him having to support himself, but I have peace about the situation.  Scott and I are fully supporting his decision.  After all, it's his life.  He's a young adult and I would never try to force him to do something he didn't want to do. As much as I wanted to see him walk across that stage in two more years with a college diploma, I realize that was my dream.  I didn't get my bachelor's until later in life.  I had also quit school after two years and didn't go back until many years later.  It's much more difficult when you're older and working full time and raising a family.  I wouldn't want him to have to go through that.

In the last six months, God has blessed Dillan with some amazing opportunities!  He has been on the sets of two movies, Endless Love and Hunger Games.  He has appeared on the sets of Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Drop Dead Divas, and has been on The Originals several times. As of today, he has also been called in as a stand-in for that show.

He auditioned for AMTC (Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ) and was accepted into their training program for acting and modeling at a time of his choosing.  He was a semi-finalist in American Eagle's last modeling campaign and recently modeled for Denim North America.  The biggest news to date (and a major reason to at least not go to school this semester) is that he is still being considered as a semi-finalist for America's Next Top Model!  I know!  Isn't that crazy!  Of course, I don't know why I'm surprised, cause he's a good lookin' guy ;)  If chosen, he will be flying to L.A. in February.

So.... I just wanted to kind of fill you in on what's happening in our lives right now.  I have to say that it's very exciting to watch your child chase his dreams and see God providing opportunities for him to succeed. There are alot of possibilities for Dillan right now and we're waiting to see what door God opens before he proceeds.  Because my husband and I both have dreams that we gave up on, we have encouraged Dillan to follow his heart and God's leading.....to reach for the stars and know that we are behind him supporting him 100 percent.  I have to say, that's real easy to do for a child like Dillan.  He's never given us a minute of trouble and has always been a joy to parent.  He's very goal-oriented and responsible as well.  We know he isn't taking any of this lightly.

He told us years ago that God was calling him to full time missions.  He didn't know what that would look like, but he knew it wasn't to preach or go to a foreign country.  He's always loved the Lord and stood against peer pressure and I pray that God would continue to strengthen him and remind him who he is in Christ above all else.

I will keep you posted on the latest as I know it.  I would greatly appreciate your prayers for my son.  And just to give you a picture into his heart, here's what he posted on Facebook to answer any questions from others about why he's not in school:

With New Years Eve approaching fast, I am super excited to announce what I have planned for 2014. I have just finished my sophomore year of college and have decided to take a break from school. This past year has been a whirlwind of opportunities and job possibilities, but I was not able to take full advantage of them because of my commitment to school. You simply cannot do both. For months, I have really felt God pulling me to be a part of the entertainment industry, whether that is in modeling or acting. I feel that he has given me new and very strong passions towards this industry. In my opinion, the industry is a mission field in itself and it needs strong Christians to be a part of it to show that you can be successful, while still having morals and a very strong faith. I'm taking my mom's advice to pursue my dreams now as opposed to later. I'm so grateful to have a supporting family and friends that do nothing but encourage me and keep me humble. I'm not doing this for the fame or recognition, while God may choose to give me that type of platform; I will try my best to reflect right back to him. Happy New Year everyone and God Bless!

I'm sharing our journey with Jennifer Dukes Lee's readers on #TellHisStory today

at Richella's Grace at Home link party


Susan Stilwell said...

Hi Lynn! We're neighbors at Jennifer Lee's today. My kids are young adults and finding their way in the world too. My son recently took a job 7 hrs away and my daughter will likely "Teach For America" when she finishes college.

It's funny -- you think parenting will be easier when your kids get older, but there are still many challenges. Such as keeping your mouth shut and trusting God to direct their paths.

I'm lifting Dillon up right now. He's right -- the entertainment industry is a wide-open mission field. How wonderful that he recognizes that and doesn't see this as an opportunity for fame and fortune. Praying for you too, mama :)

Susan in VA

Lynn Langford said...

Thank you so much for your prayers! We greatly appreciate them!

So glad to meet you too :) I hopped over to your blog and saw that you recently had surgery on your foot....hope it heals quickly.

I think it's great how you look for God in the little things - like your fracture boot. That's something I try to do as well...look for God in everyday life.

Hope to talk to you again soon :)

Michele said...

I KNOW that God led me to your site. Wow! I just spent three weeks blogging about our daughte';s decision to come home in the middle of her junior year to finish college online. Yes, it was a hard decision but one we feel confident the Lord led her too. It is never easy to parent, but I trust God is going to do great things! I KNOW He will in your son's life as well. May he follow God as he follows his dreams! Blessing from one who is in the trenches with you!

Lynn Langford said...

So good to hear from someone who understands where we are! It's so hard at times as a parent to stand back and allow our young adult children to make their own decisions. But with our prayers and God's guidance, I know they will make the right choices.

Blessings to you and your family on this journey. I'll be following along :)