The Seasons of a Dream

I’ve neglected my children.

I made allowances for my need to write, to follow hard after dreams. But I’ve done it all wrong.

Because a vacancy moved into their lives as the rabbit’s hole of my laptop screen beckoned and swallowed me up.

But didn’t my ministry and passion need to be tended too? The reading and interacting. The tweets and status updates and link-ups. The silence and time to write.

It seemed I killed my blog just when I was seeing fruit. Just when I had built up subscribers and was feeling like the hard work was paying off.

God was being glorified, right? This is after all, the dream He gave me. The call I was responding to. The call I felt God confirmed in so many different ways. 

She told me I have the potential to be great. That I’ve got a voice and skill and passion and that if I learned to combine those with a little direction, I could really rock this whole writer thing. Maybe get published and have a real book on a real shelf instead of piles of journals stacked in old boxes in the garage.

She said that as an encouragement to me, her eyes warm and expressive, the kind that make you nod like a puppy and lap up anything she says, because after all, she is living this dream. And when my feet finally landed back on earth, I was giddy with dreams I’d always held but never dared speak aloud.

I wanted to rip her words from the air and type them into a crisp contract I could present to God to sign.

After all, everything I’m passionate about, everything that makes my fingers fly at the keyboard, everything that inspires me and draws me out to splash around on a canvas of words starts with God’s glorious inspiration.

The breathing of words and story into the wounds of my past, the joys of my present, the fears in my moments, and the dreams of my future. It only seemed right that any platform built is going to shine directly on Him.

 But I couldn’t get past the Holy Spirits prompting that I was getting it wrong. Again.

I’ve found myself failing at the dream.

The time to write and pour myself into this ministry of words is spotty at best. The time to invest in those dreams, spaced and erratic.

And the kids are ready to be tucked in and pleading for one more story and I’ll lay there resenting my time  being used up on another rendition of “If You Give A Mouse a Muffin.”

Bed time

Because I feel like the poor child in the story, being overrun with requests, each one leading to another. If you put your child in pajamas, they will decide they only want to wear the batman ones, and you will remember those are in the wash, so you will bribe him with another story, and if you read him another story, he will fall asleep on you, so you will have to carry him to his bed, and if you carry him to his bed, he will wake up and want another story…

And I’ve bought into the urgency of now.

I see other bloggers succeeding, and I know they deserve it, but I’m also grieving and feeling left out.

I can’t keep up with the pace or demands of blogging, and mothering, and homeschooling, and ministry, and mentoring, and being a good wife. If you add in showering, cooking, and keeping house, you have the trifecta of failure.

I’m looking for dead weight to cut and I see nothing but my words. So the blog often goes silent. And numbers dive.

And I’m mourning the dream, pity washing over me when I remember, “It’s not a loss, it’s a sacrifice.”

It is laying my dreams and promises of God on the altar, trusting that in His time He will provide.

It is trusting that the path I’m on isn’t a race to the finish line but a slow steady obedience, each step moving me forward closer to Him, where dreams are birthed. It is trusting that blogs can be resurrected from the dead or slaughtered completely and it makes no difference as long as I’m faithful.

I have friends waiting on the Lord. Bleary-eyed new mothers craving a full nights sleep and shirts free from spit-up and days when they’ll have the energy to fix their hair again. Women facing vacant rooms in a once loud house, longing for Thanksgiving break, knowing  their kids will be visiting instead of just home. Friends who long for things I so easily take for granted, when kids climb up onto my lap asking for more of mommy.

I forget God created seasons. We brush past eternity every time we stop to really see where God is in each one. And that, when we choose what might seem like a sacrifice, it’s not a loss at all, because nothing is lost which is released into His hands.

Alia Joy

Alia Joy is a cynical idealist, homeschool mama to three little ‘uns, wife to Josh, book wormy, coffee dependent, grace saved, writer of random musings and broken stories, collector of words, attempter of all things crafty, lover of mustard yellow, turquoise, Africa, and missions. She lives in Central Oregon with her husband and three children and loves to visit big cities because there are no decent Indian, Moroccan, or Vietnamese restaurants close by. Maker-upper of words. Disliker of awkward introductions and writing in the third person.

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  • http://www.jacquewatkins.com/ JACQUE WATKINS

    Oh my. Yes. I am feeling this so strongly…the pull to meet all my demands and the longing for writing not to be the casualty. And I too have failed. Neglected. Pursued. And I am joining you in surrendering to the season He is giving. Not to miss the now at the expense of a possible future. Not to forsake the tender moments with the tenuous trying…trying to be, to keep up, to matter. My heart is. with. you. And may our full surrender be to Him, to all He is giving now, because He sees the entire course and has nothing but greatness planned. It just may not look like what we have in mind at all…but even better!! With so much love for you…xo

    • ALIA_JOY

      Thanks sweet friend. Yes, this has been the most tender excruciating season of surrender and I’m learning that when I wrestle with God, it’s almost always because I’m trying so hard to serve Him. It’s ironic in a way. I am learning that what He desires is for me to be where He is, not plodding down the path way out ahead of Him pursuing a call He has yet to fulfill. Thanks for your encouragement, as always. I will be saving one ginormous hug for you at Allume. Can’t wait to see you again. xo

  • http://kriscamealy.com/ KRIS CAMEALY

    I think this struggle is one most of us can relate to–at least those of us who work without assistants. Writing is time consuming. Homeschooling is time consuming and mothering? Well, that never stops. I find myself struggling to balance it all too. I want to serve my children and I want to write. Some days, I manage to do both well, but so many other days, something has to give, and sometimes I choose poorly. What I am coming to believe however, is that whatever dreams God has given me to write will last, if I am faithful to do what He has given me in THIS moment. My writing/speaking dreams are not lost if I don’t jump on them right this minute. God has given me these 4 souls right this minute and so I will honor Him most by pouring into them. I don’t mean to go on and on, I mainly wanted to say I HEAR you. I’m WITH you. This is not easy. Praying for all our hearts that we’d choose well, every single day. These little lives in our laps, over the lives of those “out there”.

    • CHRISTIE ELKINS.

      Gosh, Alia I love every. single. thing about this post. But how I feel can be summed up in what Kris said above ;) You both are my heroes!

      • ALIA_JOY

        Kris is one of my heroes as well. I have often said and may have even started a club of #IwanttobelikeKriswhenIgrowup fan club on twitter. ;)

    • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ APRILLE {BEAUTIFULINHISTIME.CO

      This comment is so beautifully written and so encouraging to me too!

    • ALIA_JOY

      Yes! Sometimes it seems I have bursts of time and I look around and everything seems to be going well and balanced but it never lasts and I think it’s because it’s just not my time. That simple. So yes, I want to write but I don’t want to lose time I will never get back and I’m 100% certain that comes first. I’m with you, friend. Those dreams will last. It’s not no, just not now. I’m there choosing each day and thanking God for the time to write (when I get it) AND for the time when I’m too exhausted from tiny people to tap a single key. Thank you for walking beside me and so many others. You are a blessing.

  • http://graceformymess.com/ JANA | GRACEFORMYMESS.COM

    Oh Alia, YES. You’ve described so well why I’ve had to set my blog aside completely — hopefully just for a season. God reminds me daily that His ways are not my ways, and any sacrifices made for His plans are always, always worth it. It’s just easy to lose sight of that in the day-to-day mess. I’m praying for you today, that He will draw you close as you rest in His grace and trust in His perfect timing.

    • ALIA_JOY

      You’re being faithful where God is calling you to be right now. So thankful for you, Jana. you were one of the first connections I made when I started writing and through all these seasons, I am so thankful for your encouragement.

  • ELIZABETH

    I hear, I get, I weep, I rejoice, I grieve, I understand…..you, this, Wow. Thank you sweet friend. You take my breath away. And any ability I may have had to articulate a cogent thought. Days now till I can look you in your eyes and meet your soul face to face.

    • ALIA_JOY

      Thank you so much Elizabeth. I can’t wait to see you. Someone in the Allume newbies group said something along the lines of, “I’m meeting an old friend for the first time.” That’s how I feel about you.

      • ELIZABETH

        Awwww, that makes me smile/cry. When we meet you’ll see that. I will cry/smile a lot.

  • http://tuningmyhearttopraise.blogspot.com/ RO ELLIOTT

    Alia…just beautifully honest…seasons indeed…even when the homeschooling is done…life still happens…and God still intersects moments…and yes….nothing…nothing is lost in His hands…and in His upside down kingdom even a cup of cold water has value…we get lost in using the worlds measuring scale…but God turns it upside down…we mature as we become like a child…the last will be first…the weak made strong…may you continue to see His hand in the midst of the smallest of moments…they do have great value.

    • ALIA_JOY

      Thank you so much. It’s funny because when I started writing this post, the title on my notes was, When You Do it all Backwards and Get it Right. It’s so true that we need to be measuring our success by the things God is doing right where we are and not just in what we think looks the most fruitful.

  • http://www.TheSimpleHomemaker.com/ CHRISTY, THE SIMPLE HOMEMAKER

    Amen. That’s all. Amen.

  • DARLENE COLLAZO

    Alia, thank you for your honesty. I’m sure many of the ‘successful’ looking mommas are struggling with the same things. You cannot be all thing to all people. Anyone who pretends they do is not being completely sincere. I like how Kris put it in her comment, God will take care of those dreams if we take care of what’s in front of us. Praying we keep our eyes on the right thing. <3

    • ALIA_JOY

      I’ll second what Christy, below you, said. AMEN!

  • http://youaremygirls.com/ JENNIFER CAMP

    Alia, I needed to hear this so much today. And this line I need to carry around: “It is trusting that the path I’m on isn’t a race to the finish line but a slow steady obedience, each step moving me closer to Him, where dreams are birthed.” Gorgeous and true. Thank you.

    • ALIA_JOY

      You and me both, friend.

  • JESSICA SMARTT

    so beautiful, and so well done. I want to read it and chew on the words again.

    • ALIA_JOY

      Thank you Jessica, so glad it spoke to you.

  • BARBARA ALLEN STRAUB

    I so appreciate your transparency and commend you for recognizing that now is not forever. It is not always easy practicing to walk in the present when your desire is for the future. You are right about seasons, even when they feel long. I have a 19-year-old stepdaughter away at school and a seven-year-old at home with life circumstances that bring one major life event after another I can assure your that you will move through this time. Time truly is fleeting with your children and what is lost cannot be regained. I feel your pain and am right there with you in wanting to engage in my ministry, http://www.sherpherdher.com, full time and just not having the time. I have made a commitment to be present with whomever is in front of me, with whatever task is before me, with God, and it makes for great joy and blessing. I will be praying for you in your season. Blessings.

    • ALIA_JOY

      Thank you for the prayers, Barbara. In this season, the prayers of my readers and friends and church have been a balm that’s helped me press in to God even further. So thankful for those!

  • KARRILEE AGGETT

    Oh my friend… seriously – So Much Yes! I love this… I love that God is showing you this and reassuring you that His call and gifting is there in all of the seasons, but this is not a race! I know I am one of the least competitive people I know… well – I’d like to think so anyway! I try not to give in to comparison or striving… but I have felt the pull and asked God just a few weeks ago – why… Why am I doing it? It is good to ask this… and to ask for reminders when we forget! For me – well, He gave me three reasons and not one of them was to be ‘discovered’ or to get a book deal… if that happens, that is icing (maybe?) – but it is good for me to refocus back in to the Whys of why I write!

    I am so proud of you girl – for focusing in on what is in front of you – the things that honestly matter most… and letting all the other things fall where they may! After all – as you said – we release it all into His Hands!

    Love you!

    • ALIA_JOY

      Love you too, Karrilee! Can’t wait to see you again. I think the biggest struggle is knowing God’s prompting and call in certain things but struggling with the timing of everything. Knowing that I’m on the right path but in the wrong place, I guess? So yes, it is all about refocusing. Asking God what He wants me to be doing and letting go of what may look like opportunities, if they’re getting in the way of doing the most important things. I’m now rambling. It’s been a crazy long week round these parts. All of that to say, YES, releasing it all into HIS hands and trusting Him to make clear what I’m supposed to be doing in this time.

  • MSLORRETTY

    me too.

    • ALIA_JOY

      ;) I like you. A Lot.

  • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ APRILLE {BEAUTIFULINHISTIME.CO

    Alia, this post resonated with me so much. I’m trying to find more margin in my days, balance everything, and so many times I feel like I’m failing. I did a series this summer and have had AT LEAST five people tell me that I need to write a book. I have several friends who are in the production phase of writing and producing books for publications. A few weeks ago I started to wonder if maybe God is calling me that direction too. Even marked all of the writing and publication sessions at Allume as the ones I need to go to.

    And then bam it just hit me when my son turned three a few weeks ago. This season, this phase, it goes fast. And everything can wait. Maybe I should work toward a book, and I still may, but for now, I feel like God is asking me to relinquish those dreams to read One Fish Two Fish and teach the ABCs and show my son how to dress himself and maybe eventually even poop by himself.

    So thank you for your transparency.

    • ALIA_JOY

      I sat down with an agent. A really godly man who told me, “Don’t write this book until you can’t NOT write it.” And when that time comes, send it to me personally.

      I came to him wondering if I needed to build a bigger platform or submit my book proposal or a thousand other things I was worrying about that I honestly stink at. I am probably the worst person ever at all the self promotion because it feels really superficial and awkward. I just want to write and connect. I was really struggling with all the branding and packaging of myself. And then I just said honestly, “I don’t know if I can do this now, I’ve got 3 kids, I homeschool them, I help my husband run our painting business, I’m involved in other things. But I feel like I’ve got this story to tell and it doesn’t fit on a blog.”

      And then he spoke into my life about timing and I felt a peace that I wasn’t going to miss my opportunity because I’m not striving for this thing right now. If God writes this story, it will go and be whatever He chooses it to be.

      So yes, you may write or work on a book, you may even get it finished or published or any number of things, but you’ll never get those chubby 3 year old cheeks back or that time reciting ABC’s until you’re chanting them in your sleep. So I’m with you, sister, resting in God’s perfect timing.

      • http://beautifulinhistime.com/ APRILLE {BEAUTIFULINHISTIME.CO

        I keep this reply in my email inbox and it’s so good every time I read it! Thanks so much for your encouragement!

  • http://www.garyberryblog.blogspot.com/ RAE

    Beautiful, authentic post! Like all the other commenters, I’m with you… I’ve felt this too.

    • ALIA_JOY

      Thanks Rae. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one feeling this struggle.

  • NISHA

    So timely, so eloquently written. You read my heart! :-)

  • ASHLEY TOLINS LARKIN

    Dear friend, how I needed your words in their various forms this morning. I adore your honesty, and I am grateful not to be alone in the struggle to figure this dream thing out. The stutter steps, and the laying it down and the doing the next right thing and the feeling frustrated and the giving thanks and the remembering…oh yes, the seasons and the One who holds them all. (Exhaling.) Thank you, love.

  • http://onegirl-itjusttakesone.blogspot.com/ KAITLYN

    Oh friend….needed this, as my blog feels like it’s gone silent since college has begun again. The time to write has been replaced by homework and projects and growing old and new friendships. All good, but hard to let the days go by without writing. Thank you for this, this reminder that it’s really okay. The dream isn’t dying, He’s just working in other places in my life right now.

  • JESSICA MUELLER

    And this is why I’m 9 years into blogging without really having made a name for myself. If it was up to me…I would’ve tried my darnest to make it happen. But it always seemed God would orchestrate life to where I couldn’t–absolutely couldn’t–a trimester worth of morning sickness, a hot summer pregnant with a toddler, moving, and on. He told me years ago to write and I always wanted to interpret that the way I saw best. I still struggle with these seasons and lament that I didn’t use my time better, but God–there’s a plan in there somewhere, a purpose.

  • http://inthelionsname.blogspot.com/ DANIELLE CYRUS

    I have had this page open for weeks, just trying to find the time to comment and say, me too! Like others, I love to write and feel like God uses my words when I actually get them posted, but the press of everyday reminds me writing can only be a side-story right now.