pursuing your dreams right now – in the middle of life’s chaos

Life happens. Our dreams can easily get overlooked – clouded out by day-to-day responsibilities and concerns.  They sit on the shelf in our mind, packed neatly away and gathering dust.  Occasionally we bump into them, promising to pursue them sometime soon.  

photo by Erwan Hesry

The twists and turns of life have brought amazing and unexpected joys.  I’m not complaining about the roads I did not travel.  I love my life.  That said, when it comes to my dreams, so many distractions and diversions have prevented me from going after them with any sort of regularity or intention. 

These days my teen son could have a warning label on his forehead that reads something like: “Danger: prone to unpredictable moods and seriously poor choices.”  When we give birth, our heartstrings inextricably wind themselves around our children.  From that point forward, our children tug us around whether we like it or not!

photo by Joey Banks

What hurts my son pains me. What gives him joy brings me delight. When he struggles, I can’t simply go on with my day as usual. The magnetic pull called “motherhood” draws me to love him something fierce, want the very best for him and work to help him achieve his dreams. I watch him navigate life and I can’t help but wonder how it will all turn out.  If you parent a teen, I know I’m speaking your language.  Being the mom of an adolescent can be exhilarating. It can also be draining, overwhelming and plain old scary. 

All this focus on getting my son through this phase with the least amount of residual yuck has caused me to put my dreams at the bottom of my list.  Throwing in the towel on my own priorities has been tempting.  It seemed logical to wait until we’re through the tough stuff to get back to my calling. 


The other day as I was praying, I felt a nudge from God. He said, “Don’t put your passion on the back burner.” I sat still, attempting to discern what He was leading me towards. Years ago I got my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. It had been one of my life’s dreams to be a counselor, writer and speaker. As things go, my career took off in a different direction and I never pursued my license. Though I did counseling and coaching on the side, and I do speak regularly, I never finished what I started.

Almost a year ago, God said, “now.” I knew it was time to start looking into the daunting task of accumulating the remaining 2500 hours of experience towards my license so I could actually fulfill my dreams. Simultaneously I was writing my first book with a colleague and moving forward with increased speaking opportunities.

Turmoil and unpredictability in our family life made me set aside much of what I wanted to achieve. I figured it wasn’t time to push through my goals and dreams. They needed to me. My dreams could wait.

photo by David Zawila


When God surprisingly whispered to me about pressing on, it took me off guard.  I need to cultivate my own life WHILE I mother my children, not after.  I know I’ll have to be flexible. Some days I’ll have to postpone, cancel or shift plans so that I can be more available to my family.  Filling my schedule with tasks and live web trainings while hoping my children make their own supper and clean behind their ears would be ridiculous. 

I am the only mom these boys have. I am the only wife (as far as I know!) that my husband has. Those precious roles of mom and wife come first and foremost.  God is showing me they aren’t exclusive.  I can have a life of my own and be present for my family.  It means taking care to avoid what my friend Lisa calls, “being the shoemaker whose kids go barefoot.”

You see, when I was about four or five (true story), I told my mom I wanted to be a writer, speaker and to help people who hurt.  I know that’s a tad young for traditional life-planning discussions, but hey.  Knowing where I was headed gave me a sense of purpose from an early age.  I pursued psychology electives in high-school.  I geared my majors and minors in college to line up with my calling.  Despite my innate intentionality, somewhere along the line I lost my focus.  Maybe I can blame it on the dive in estrogen and progesterone after giving birth, or the classic “mom brain.”

photo from

Whatever it was, I forgot my dream.


But God.  Those two words sum up the hope I have.  God didn’t forget my dreams.  He held them, preserved, in a sweet spot.  At just the right time – what?! – yep, right now, in the middle of uncertainty and pain in our family, He whispers, “Don’t give up.”  When God speaks to that innermost place in my soul, I take note. 

This month I’ve been taking action to pursue more speaking opportunities, to refine what you read here at Hearts Homeward, and even to put together an e-book about parenting teens through crisis (filled with many hard-earned gems from this season in our home).  I’m having a BLAST! Our callings are life-giving.  They fill us to overflowing.  The people around us reap the blessings of our fullness.


It’s still challenging being where we are as a family.  True to form, God continues to bring amazing blessings out of trials.  I would never pick this time in my life to pursue sharing with others.  I would wait until the dishes were neatly washed and put away, the laundry was folded and in its drawers, the family issues were relatively non-existent and I had lost those last 10 pesky pounds.  In other words, I’d never get to my dream because there wouldn’t be an ideal time.  Stepping out into new territory gives me the heebie-jeebies when I feel this vulnerable. 

God didn’t say this would be easy.

photo by Natalie Collins

He said He would be with me.  And He is.

How about you? 

Do you have dusty dreams, lurking on shelves in your mind?  Have you let life crowd them out?  Have you stashed them away for a more ideal season?  Could it be that God is urging you to step out – even in baby steps – to pursue them?  Where could you be in a year if you took action towards those today?  Where will you be if you don’t?  I encourage you to spend time in prayer, asking God about your dreams.  Whatever you decide together, He is with you. 


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  • Reply
    October 26, 2017 at 2:28 PM

    I haven’t given myself permission to dream for a long while. I barely get through each day. But I should try again, hope again, dream again. Blessings!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2017 at 5:51 PM

    Barbie, Yes! I know it can feel “defeated before we start” sometimes. You’ve been through a lot of getting back up after being knocked down. It can feel like staying “down” a bit is easier after a while. Honestly, though, you have been such a blessing to me in my blogging life. You have helped me revamp this very site, answered questions, spurred me forward. I want to return the favor right now by saying, “yes,” go ahead and dream. Then put feet to your dreams. It’s not necessarily going to look the way we expect, but we will end up with fewer regrets and a sense of satisfaction for trying. Aim for the moon and you might at least catch a few stars! Love to you, friend.

  • Reply
    Sherry Stahl
    December 15, 2017 at 9:28 PM

    I think there’s something powerful in showing out kids HOW to follow hard after God’s plans. Let’s show them the way!
    Sherry Stahl

    • Reply
      December 16, 2017 at 7:32 AM

      Thanks, Sherry! It’s true. I remember my mom’s passions for helping battered women and working in the inner city. I also remember her hobbies of gardening, reading, and knitting. It’s hard to think of her without thinking of those passions. God’s plans aren’t always written in a straight line – because He writes with our brokenness. Still, I am grateful to have heard His urging in this season. I can’t wait to see more of where He guides you in the coming year. Blessings.

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