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Reaching For Our Dreams

In all my years of writing, I always had the mindset “when” I get published not “if.” It never occurred to me I might be a tad prideful, unrealistic, or deluded. I’ve always just believed, “If I want to accomplish something, then I’ll do what it takes to make that happen.”

Part of my mindset stems from my childhood. I had the kind of parents who allowed me the freedom to dream big and to pursue my passions, no matter how big or small.

One year, in sixth grade, I decided to run cross-country. Of course, I had Olympic-size dreams. When I think back to that stage, I chuckle. But what strikes me most is that my mother didn’t chuckle. Instead, everyday, she got on her bike and rode alongside me as I ran up and down the hilly country roads near our home. Without fail she pedaled by my side, her steady words encouraging me.

Then there was the time in eighth grade I decided to be in the school play and take up acting. Once again, my parents let me dream big. They nurtured my creativity and they were my biggest fans. Even though I never did last beyond one year with either running or acting, their faith in me never wavered.

They believed I could do anything I set my mind to. And because they believed in me, I could believe in myself.

Now as a parent of five, I find myself in the very same position. I want to give my children one of the greatest gifts of all: the ability to believe in themselves.

My children all have various talents and abilities. While I hope that I can help them discover how God uniquely designed them, I also want to give them the freedom to dream big.

When my 6 year old son says, “Someday I’m going to travel all over the world” I respond by saying, “Wow, that would be fantastic. Just imagine all of the people you might get to meet and love.”

When my 10 year old daughter says, “I’m going to write mysteries when I grow up,” I tell her “You don’t have to wait. You can start right now.”

My oldest once wanted to be an artist, and he set up an “art shop” in a cardboard box in our basement. I gave him all the supplies he needed, and he spent hours painting and coloring on the walls of his “shop.”

Even though their passions may be temporary, and they’ll likely move on to a dozen other things just like I did, each of those experiences gives me a chance to encourage them , to believe in them, to teach them that they can do anything.

The lesson is true for all of us. We can’t reach for our dreams if we don’t start by believing in ourselves. I’m not talking about a showy, prideful attitude that we can rise to the top. But rather a quiet, secure confidence in our gifts and abilities, a steadiness to pursue our passion day in and day out, the belief that we have what it takes to accomplish what we set out to do.

Doubts and insecurities may come and try to weigh on our shoulders. But an unshakable, inner confidence needs to toss them off. Instead, we must continue to stretch tall. Reach high. And never stop believing we can grasp onto our dreams.

Do you believe in yourself? Are you standing tall and reaching for your dreams? Or have you let doubt and disappointments weigh you down?

Next post: The hard work of making dreams come true.

52 comments:

  1. Awesome post, Jody. How blessed you were to have such wise parents and how blessed your children are to have you! I certainly want to do the same for my kids. There is such power in believing that you have been given the skills to do something significant in the world.

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  2. I LOVE this post. I want to do the same thing for my children too.
    I feel like I believe in myself. I usually say when, though sometimes in writing I'll change it to if 'cause I wasn't sure if it came across as prideful.
    Like you though, I don't mean it that way, I just believe if I work at this long and hard enough, I'll get pubbed. :-)
    Have a great morning!

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  3. Great post Jody! It is so true. Thanks for reminding me that I have to believe in myself. I think with writing I am finally at a place where I can think that. I have never been so determined or even confident in my life.
    Thanks!

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  4. If you don't believe in yourself, how can you expect others to believe in you?

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  5. Love this! I had parents similar... they always dreamed big and while they didn't have the time to be quite so supportive, I always knew they were behind me.

    Every once in a while the fear does sneak on, what if I'm doing this all for naught? But I remind myself that every dream has costs and requires hardwork... if I'm not willing to put in the time/work for my dream, then I'll will have a 0% chance of succeeding.

    LOVE the notes on your kids. It's something I need to work more on with mine, I think. I have one who wants to be a singer.... *sigh*

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  6. This is so beautiful. Thanks for the glimpse into your world.

    I've been thinking a lot lately about what my writing teaches my children about working hard for something and dreaming big.

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  7. I'm a "when" writer too.

    When I look back at all that God's accomplished in me so far, getting a book published seems very realistic.

    Doubts and disappointments try hard, but when I regard them for what they really are--distractions their power wanes.
    ~ Wendy

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  8. Jody, what a WONDERFUL post!
    A couple of years ago, I just started living day by day, with the Spirit guiding me.

    I don't really have "dreams" as God has provided for me wildly beyond what I ever imagined.

    Highlights of this year:
    My son's baptism
    My daughter's marriage to a wonderful Christian man

    Thank you for letting me think...and dream in my Holy Spirit way!!!

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  9. I am working hard to believe in myself, and I thank you for this reminder to encourage my daughter in all her quests.

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  10. Amen! Amen! Amen! I LOVE my parents, but they are the very realistic type. My brother and I have both had/have big dreams, and they are very quick to say, "You're not going to quit your dayjob, are you?" I mean this with no disrespect to them. They have been wonderfully, nurturing, supportive parents. Just realisitc. And afraid, I think, to let us set our hopes high and then deal with the disappointment. But I'm SO much more like you. I want to let my c hildren dream big. They have the world telling them no...so why should they get that at home too?

    What a lovely reminder to believe in the gifts God has given us, Jody.

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  11. I'm a "when" person, too. Not just about writing, but about anything I decide to do. It's a good thing to have that confidence when the days are hard or things start to seem really down. It makes it easier to pick ourselves up and keep going until it gets better.

    Your kids will really appreciate the support you give them. I know I appreciate that from my own parents.

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  12. I definitely dream as if there's no chance it won't come true. Always have. Thanks, Jody, for the awesome post!

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  13. You are truly giving your children a gift by not poo-pooing their dreams. Greaat encourager! :O)

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  14. Jody,

    This is SO true. And I love that you've written about it. Sometimes it's hard to talk about this because I feel like it makes me sound arrogant. But for me it's a when, not an if, too. I believe that's the only way to succeed!

    A smart author told me recently, "You have to really know that you're better than everyone else out there." I think he's right.

    A post on my blog today deals with building community, and I use you as an example -- I really love what you've done with your blog. Kudos!

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  15. How blessed you were to have such an encouraging and supportive family! And how blessed your childen are to have you for a mother!

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  16. I love how you're supporting your kids. Not just THAT you're supporting them, but HOW you're doing it.

    I have always believed and still do that I'll be published. It's something I just KNOW. I feel it in my gut. And those feelings have never let me down before.

    Have a great day!

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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  17. Dreams are important whether we achieve them or not. The realities of life are the obstacles we must overcome to reach our dreams. But we also need to know when our dreams are totally unrealistic for us and need to be altered. There's nothing wrong with changing one's mind and starting a new dream when it becomes necessary.
    I believe in my abilities. I've achieved many of my life's dreams, maybe not to the highest level that I initially dreamed about, and always have at least one more dream that I want to achieve next. Without a dream, there is no life.
    Lee

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  18. I love the deep thoughts this morning. My mom allowed me to believe that I absolutely could do anything I set my mind to. No way could anything EVER hold me back. I believed her! Now that I'm an adult my thinking is slowly shifting as I consider God's will/plan vs. my desires. So....I now I am firmly undecided. LOL, how's that for an answer? I'm learning to be content in the not-knowing. Of course, much easier said than done.

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  19. Great post Jody! This is the biggest dream I've ever fostered. And I stand on God's faithfulness to use me for His glory.

    I believe like you that I will be published. I never have a doubt about that, and I'm boasting on the Lord about that one. It's His gift.

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  20. Jody, you were very blessed to have the parents you had. And your children are blessed to have you. I didn't have that kind of encouragement and support growing up, but I believe in myself now and have a community of people who love and cheer me on. Including those of you I've met blogging.
    Thank you.
    Karen

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  21. Your children are very lucky to have such a supportive mom. I hope I'm as supportive of my kiddos (I think I am!). I do believe in my dreams and my abilities to reach them, but I still have to fight the doubting blues now and then.

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  22. I DO believe in myself, Jody, and the very big God in me who gives me courage and strength to dream as big as I please.

    Thank YOU for believing in me, too. You are one of the friends who've kept me believing when I was tempted to doubt.

    Love you, girl.

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  23. You sound like a wonderful mother and the kind of mother I want to be someday :) Your kids are truly lucky to have you! And how lucky you were in your own parents. Mine gave me everything I wanted - I was and am very loved, but never truly understood. My dream of writing was mine alone and I was discouraged from pursuing it. I love my parents to death but it's a wound I will forever keep in my heart, this constant reinforcement that what I loved was not important and was not possible. It's a lesson I will remember for my children one day.

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  24. "...quiet, secure confidence in our gifts and abilities, a steadiness to pursue our passion day in and day out, the belief that we have what it takes to accomplish what we set out to do."

    What a great way to emphasize that confidence in oneself isn't the same as being egotistic.

    I have experienced those days when quiet confidence overrules doubt. I hold on to those moments as long as I can.

    Thanks for the post! I'm looking forward to reading the next one on making those dreams come true!

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  25. I *love* this post! It's so true!!! My parents were the same way, and I have a mentality of 'when' I get published, not 'if'. And, it goes a little further than that: 'when' I'm not just published, but successful as a writer! I don't necessarily want to be a NYT bestseller (though I wouldn't turn it down), but to be able to have that be my full-time job--that's my goal.

    I hope that as I raise my daughter and her in utero sibling (and any other children that come our way), my husband and I will constantly encourage them to reach for their dreams.

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  26. You are fortunate, and it's so great that you are passing that blessing onto your children. I was in my mid-20's before I even allowed myself to believe in myself. And now I am finally learning how to make believing in myself a habit, through the help of meditation and medication (and God, that being the biggest part).
    As I face my own writing challenges, I realized recently that I had lost sight of my dream. I was letting all the lies about my worth distract me from my ultimate goal in writing. And so now I'm recommitting to that goal.

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  27. I LOVE this post Jody! I grew up with a parent who didn't boost any confidence and one who supported as much as possible. Before I had kids, I always knew that I would encourage them to pursue their dreams, no matter how big or small! I believe that it makes a world of difference. My heart doesn't always scream "you can do this," but I do my best to push away the doubts and disappointments.

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  28. Beautiful post, Jody! I believe in myself in the sense that I know I will put forth my best effort and not give up. I'm not certain where that effort will lead me professionally but I know that I'll give it everything I've got. For me, that is the key, to not sell myself short by slacking off. To believe in my ability to keep moving forward.

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  29. Wonderful, wonderful. I love this blog!
    Yes, most days I do believe. Sometimes, I need a little reminder. Like this post. Can't wait til next post! (it's what my book is about)

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  30. Loved this post, Judy! I'm confident that if my dreams are according to God's will for my life they can and will come true. Sometimes I struggle with doubts, but mostly I'm still trying to figure out exactly what my dreams are. Do I really want to be published or do I just want to write?

    And I was also blessed with supportive parents who did (and do!) believe in me and encourage dreaming big and never settling for second best. If I ever have children, I hope to be as supportive as they are :)

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  31. Wonderful post, Jody!

    "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" (Robert Browning)

    My parents believed doing anything less than one's best in any pursuit was unacceptable. I was an only child and they had high expectations for me. I never doubted that if I worked hard I could achieve my goals and I hope I've helped instill a similar confidence in my children. I believe it goes hand in hand with a sense of self worth.

    My self worth won't be affected if publication doesn't happen for my novels, but I like the challenge of 'reaching' and I'll continue to work with that goal in mind.

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  32. I love your perspective in this post. The word "if" isn't a very useful part of my vocabulary. The idea that whatever is depending on "if" is left dangling, leaves me feeling defeated before I even start.

    Even though a lot of my "whens" never materialize, the ides created with "when" do nurture my creativity and open up all of the possibilities. There is no room for doubt or insecurities "when" I have set my mind to accomplish something.

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  33. I had parents much like yours. I grew up believing I could be anything, do anything, achieve anything. I still believe that. And I do hope it's something I can infuse into my own children.

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  34. Can I echo the sentiment that you are blessed to have had two lovely parents? You sound like an excellent mother as well.

    I'm standing tall and reaching for the stars. I'm hopeful beyond measure in all the Lords good promises and I think that above all else propels me in the right direction.

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  35. This post comes at a good time for me. I'm usually plagued with doubts and I'm so impatient that I just want things to happen NOW, or even yesterday would be better. I have to be careful never to let the doubts and insecurities to take over. Thank you.

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  36. Hi Jody -

    I view all those preliminary dreams as training wheels for the real thing. You learn discipline and get a taste of success. You also eliminate what doesn't work.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  37. What a great childhood you had, wonderful, nurturing parents. I want to be like that. I'm going to say, "Of course, you can. What do you need?"

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  38. I grew up in a 'you can't do that' environment. I think it made me want to prove something. I still have a lot of self-esteem issues, but I plug away. Nobody can steal my dreams!

    Your children have a wonderful mom! You had a terrific role model.

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  39. This is a wonderful and lovely post. I have very low self-esteem, especially when it comes to writing, where I am surrounded by those so much better than I am. However, that's because I know I'm not good enough yet, and I believe that I can be with enough practice if I work hard to make it happen. The journey to publication will be long, and I might give up a few times, but with God's Grace and preservation, I am determined to make it. :]

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  40. I had the same kind of parents and it has certainly shaped who I am today. What a gift to pass along to your children! I hope I can do the same. Thank you for reminding me to put my mind on things above not on doubt or despair.

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  41. LOVE how supportive you are of your kids dreams. So many parents crush dreams without even realizing it.

    Very inspiring. :)

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  42. I really needed this today. I grew up with very supportive parents in every area except writing. They told me I could "do anything" but were very suspicious of anything I let them read. "Where did you get your idea for this?" Not in a good way, but in a "should we be taking you to a therapist?" sort of way.

    My biggest compliment from those who read my work is " I got so into the story, I forgot it was YOU who wrote it." My parents could never make that distinction.

    So, do I believe in myself? Sort of. Am I standing tall and reaching for my dreams? Not exactly. Have I let doubt and disappointment weigh my down? Absolutely.

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  43. Awesome post, Judy. I love reading yours, because they are usually so upbeat. I, too, have always said "when." My husband always corrects me, but I just correct him back. And I think that helped get me past the hard parts. Thanks for posting.

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  44. Almost everything I write finds a home eventually. Some pieces just take more work than others, or more submissions.

    It's hard not to take some of it personally. I can handle publication rejections, but grant and residency rejections are much harder to handle, beause those ARE personal -- and so often, the decisions are made by people with fewer publishing crednetials than I've racked up.

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  45. Hello! I'm your newest follower. (I learned about your blog from Alexis Grant's blog.) I'm an aspiring writer myself, and I definitely DO NOT have that confidence. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I always brushed it aside as being a silly dream. It took starting a blog to realize that I want to truly pursue writing. Thanks for the pep talk!

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  46. This was a beautiful post to read. What an amazing mom you are. I was not given the gift of dreams in childhood, but managed to cling to them anyway. Now (after years of hard work) I believe that I can achieve whatever I came here to do - even though the doubt voices do get loud from time to time.

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  47. It's so true. When I told my dad I wanted to write, he said "now what do you really want to do."

    My boys want to play in the NBA and although that dream is slim I'm not taking it away.,

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  48. My parents always believed in me. I've always sensed that they have always known I could do ANYTHING I put my mind to.

    Now I just need to put my mind to it and believe in myself.

    Thank you for this,
    Jen

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  49. I had to fight for my dream to become a nurse. I chose to give it up to concentrate on my writing. Both dreams were not going to be taken away from me at any cost.

    I am standing tall this week, lol I have just blogged about my positive mind.

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  50. Sometimes I wish I didn't dream so big and that I could let some of those dreams go...Or at least figure out if my dreams are indeed God's dreams for me!

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  51. Awesome blog. As a mother of four, I like to encourage my children as well. Even if I have to sacrifice something or time.. they are more than worth it. My dream is to be an author more than anything. I want to make it happen, so WHEN I get published I will send you a copy of my book!
    God Bless
    Heather

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  52. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience, you're truly amazing and a reminder for all of us that we can truly accomplish anything we put our minds to. Certainly, you're an exemplar.

    Cheers
    Alva

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