Do it Scared

My childhood is different from most people’s. My mother is a writer. She spent her days hunched over the typewriter wearing her bathrobe. When I was ten, she appointed me her editor. I took great pleasure in using a red marker. “Boring. You can do better.”

Here we are at a GUIDEPOSTS writers workshop in 2009.

She called last week. “My writing days are over,” she said with a sigh. “I’m going to become the mother y’all always wanted. I’m going to dust the baseboards and post menus on the refrigerator. I’m even going to learn to sew.”

“You’re not going to be happy.”

“Gene’s going to love it. (Gene’s her husband.) I’m going start using cookbooks.”

“Mother, you’re a writer. You hate directions. And nobody learns to sew at 77.”

“My creativity’s dried up. I have nothing left to say.”

“You taught me to feel a story moving in my heart long before it comes to life, remember? And to love words and books and the rhythm of sentences.”

“Those days are over.”

“You’re afraid to write, aren’t you?”

A long pause formed. “Perhaps.”

“You taught us rejection is part of life. And when we fall, we don’t stay down.” I felt my throat tighten. “And to keep our eyes and God. And to never ever give up.”

“Well, I quit.”

“Who am I supposed to call when I need the perfect adjective?”

“You’ll figure it out.”

Two days she called. “Can I read you something? I’ve wanted to write it for a while, but I lacked the courage.”

“Welcome back. How’d you conquer your fear?”

“I took that first terrifying step. I typed the first sentence. And then another. And another. God was right there with me.”

“This is bigger than writing, you know.”

“Yep,” she said. “No matter what you face, say ‘Shut up fear.’ And tell your heart, ‘Full steam ahead.'”

Is there something you want to do, but you’re afraid to try? Share it in the comments. That might be your first brave step. We’ll be rooting for you! 





  1. LOVED this! We really can live in what we “like to do” if we only fear Him, huh? How encouraging to know that we can just keep going, be persistent and He will give us the right adjectives and so much more. It is bigger!

    • That’s exactly right and you summed it up beautifully. “We really can live in what we like to do if we only fear Him.”

      Powerful. Yep. That’s it!!!!

  2. Anna Haney says:

    You won’t believe this, but I am not crying. Instead, I have a new found sense of determination. Thank you and thank your dear, sweet momma. Stay warm on this cold day. This reminds me of that song from the Christmas show “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” called “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” Sometimes that’s all we have to do!

    • Ha! So Anna’s not crying. I’d really be worried about you if you cried over this one. When I read it to Mother he couldn’t stop laughing. 🙂 🙂

      Amen! Let’s keep putting one foot down, then the other, and the other.

      Love you, my friend.

  3. Georgia says:

    Thank you for this encouragement today, Julie. Many blessings to you and your mama!

    • You’re so welcome. Thank you for saying thank you….love to know people actually read my words. 🙂

  4. Lenora Gambrell says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words today. I’ve had two wedding consults this week, which always scare me to death. What if they want me to do something I’ve not done before, what if I quote it wrong… on and so on. When I get to the week of the wedding with the arranging and process, I’m on! It’s those first steps when the negative tells me I’m not good enough. whew…thanks!

    • Lenora, you are so poised and beautiful….would have never guessed you struggle with fear.

      I SO understand the not good enough stuff. But look what you just said…when it’s time to shine, you’re right on target!

      Thanks for reading and letting me know you understand. Let me know how the weddings go. Blessings!

  5. Angie Gilliam says:

    I’ve always wanted to write. Either novels, short stories or Bible Studies. I’ve been afraid to even try college for fear of failing the entrance exam or classes. I was an A-B student in High School several blue moons ago. Now I think I’m really too old. It was just a dream!

    • Donna Glass says:

      You are never too old, Angie! If God has given you a dream and a passion then He will be right there with you. Was Grandma Moses “too old” when she started painting? No! Neither are you!

    • Angie, Donna’s right. Wasn’t Grandma Moses in her 70’s when she started painting?? I think so. Write as though you’re never going to show anyone. Write real. Write honest. And then show one person.

      That’s your assignment. 🙂 Do it scared if you have to.

  6. Brenda Greene says:

    So encouraging Sweet Julie and for once, there’s not a “story to share” from my life. 🙂

    Just tremendously humbled that God has blessed me with SO much and I’ve done the things in life I’ve wanted to do. Or maybe I just learned to love the things I needed to do….?

    Love, love, love that your momma will keep on blessing us with her words and even more blessed that you got that “gene” from her and the “beat goes on” for generations to come!! Yay!

    Love you and your sweet posts, Julie Girl…stay warm! Brenda

    • Brenda, I just love it that you call me Julie-Girl. Always makes me smile.

      And there’s no story to share???? Love how you say, “I’ve learned to love the things I needed to do.”

      I’ll pass along your sweet message to Mother. I didn’t plan to write–didn’t start until I turned 40. And just think–buried deep inside all those days of childhood reading/editing there was a Plan.


  7. Julie,
    Many years ago, someone I hardly knew spoke the words, “Do It Afraid” to me. It’s probably one of the reasons I’m writing today. In fact, the theme of moving ahead in courage despite our fears is a theme in a book I have coming out in a few months. Thank you for an affirming word today! Love to all!

    • Brenda Greene says:

      Just recently read your first novel, Beverly and loved it! Excited to know there’s a new one soon to come!!

      • Brenda and Beverly,

        I didn’t know there’s a new novel coming?! How have I missed it? I adored Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees!!!

        And Bev, isn’t it peculiar–the fear of writing never completely leaves us. We just do it afraid.

  8. Shelley Elaine says:

    Oh Julie! Thank goodness!!! Your mom’s writing has been an inspiration to me for years and is actually how I came across your blog-the two of you just really seem to speak my language and I often think that I should tell you both, “THANK YOU”…I can’t tell you how many tough days your writing seems to bring the encouragement I need at just the right moment.

    • Shelley, you can’t imagine what it means to a writer to know our words touch your hearts. And that they even make sense!!

      You made my day, sweet friend.


  9. ‘Shut up fear.’
    ‘Full steam ahead.’
    GREAT words to live by. I’m tacking them up in my office where I can see them every day. It’s not just about writing, it’s about life, about love, about giving ourselves second chances (and third, and fourth, and so on).

    Susan Jeffers wrote a book titled, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” Love that book. Love your Mom’s strength. Onward…full steam ahead!

    • Yep, B.J. I thought about you as I wrote this post. We talk about this so often, don’t we.

      I remembered you sharing that book title with me.

      Absolutely no other way, is there but to Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!

  10. Well, if this isn’t perfect timing, I don’t know what is. :))

    Just last week, I told God, “I’m done working on this book. Sixteen years I’ve been working on it. If you want me to keep on, You’ll have to let me know. I’m ready to abandon it.”

    I was angry that day. Tired. Tired of making all my other projects wait, as I plod through my first novel for children. I prayed. I prayed some more. God gave me a name. A name of someone that “gets” my story. I also got a sense that the Lord does want me to keep working on my story. I knew I’d have to pray my way through the delving deeper into what my character really wants.

    So yes, like your mother, I was frozen in fear.

    All last week, I prayed over my words and wrote. The Holy Spirit gave me a word. Two words. A string of words. Now, the first chapter has been looked over by my friend, and she is elated. “Much better,” she said. “I care more about your character. You’re getting it, Jean.”

    Well, I sure didn’t do this on my own.

    Thank you for such a timely post, Julie. I always enjoy them all.

    • Jean. Jean. Jean.

      And guess what? Every single time I post a blog, I think, no one will read this. No one will understand what in the heck I’m talking about. I’m wasting my time.

      And then I get to read a precious comment like yours.

      You can’t imagine (well, you probably can) what this means to me.

      Such a deep, deep honor to know that my words are encouraging you to keep going.

      We both know it ain’t easy, and we sure don’t do this for money. Ha!!!

      I’m praying for you. KEEP GOING.

      I adore what your friend said to me, and believe me, I know what it means to you.

      So much love!

  11. I love your mom! And I’m delighted (although I never truly believed she’d give up) she’s back to writing. 🙂 I agree with her statement about telling fear to shut up. The enemy of our souls wants most to quiet us when God stirs up profound words in our hearts … words he has for someone and wants to use us to deliver them. Never forget that. 🙂

    • Powerful, Ane…The enemy of our souls wants most to quiet us when God stirs up profound words in our hearts. WHEW!!! Good stuff.

      Thank you!!

  12. Love this! I am so encouraged to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Three simple, but powerful words, “do it afraid” actually gave me the courage to step out and begin my writing journey. But how easily we forget. Thank you for the reminder.

    • You’re so welcome, Sheri.

      I’m cheering for you!!! Wonderful!!!! Please, please, let me know how your journey unfolds. Just made my day to read your comment.

      Writing can be…well, exhilarating and terrifying.


  13. Thank you, Julie! I needed this encouragement in a few areas of my life. One being that I love crocheting and have always shied away from doing bigger projects for others as I always felt I wasn’t good enough. That fear has sidelined me in more ways than one. Now, after reading your post, I have been reminded that with God by my side, I can do it! I just have to take that first step.

    • Hey Eileen!

      I’m smiling all the way to my toes. I crocheted years ago–and I know what you mean. Sometimes I’m just in awe of the gorgeous things others can make. I just made easy blankets.

      Please, please share a picture with me of your finished project. I’d love to see it. I’m praying for you–so brave to even say, “I’m scared.” Can’t wait to see what color yarn you choose!

  14. Patricia Martin says:

    Hi Julie,
    Something I want to do (and I am unsure as to how to go about it) is reach out to my estranged Uncle. He has distanced himself from our family and I wondered if you have any advice? I want to reach out and let him know that we love him and that God loves him even more!!!! I really like the picture of you and your Mom–I am so glad she is not giving up on writing because I grew up reading her stories in Guideposts and Chicken Soup for the Soul. (: God Bless you and your loved ones!
    Patricia (:

    • Hey Patricia,

      Such a deep, sweet, personal note.

      What comes to mind is could you send him a card? A note? Just say you’ve been thinking about him and you’re praying for him?

      Sounds like God is stirring your heart in this area. I’m praying right now that He’ll lead you to your next step and it was so brave of you to share it here. I’m cheering for you!!!!

      Please let me know what happens next.

      So much love! xoxox

  15. What an amazing Mama you have! I’d love to read something she’s written.

    • Hey Elizabeth,

      She’s written 7 books and she writes for Guideposts and Daily Guideposts (we both do).

      Her last book was Praying for My Life, published by Guideposts.

      Thank you–and she’d love your home and blog, just like I do. 🙂 She just doesn’t have a computer.

  16. Kathryn says:

    Hi Julie,
    What great encouragement! Maybe I will try to learn to paint after all. Always wanted to. You and your mom are so refreshing in this crazy world we live in. Have enjoyed your writings for years!

    • Yes, Yes, Yes, Kathryn!!!!

      PAINT!! Mother used to paint years ago.

      PLEASE PAINT!! Show me what you paint. I’ll take my computer to Mother’s house and show her how her fear encouraged you. She’d love that!

      May God bless your creativity. Just think of what an artist He is. 🙂

  17. Betty Crader says:

    I’m still trying to get the courage to find out what’s next in my life. My husband died on 11/2/13 after 7 years of living wit ALS. I know God has plans for me. But I’m not ready to get out of my shell. Tomorrow is our 55th anniversary yet; we missed it by 3 months.

    • Ohhhh, Betty.

      My eyes are full of tears. I’m so very sorry. So sorry.

      You know what? You took the first step. You wrote honestly right here. You know and believe with all your heart that God is not finished with you. And quite honestly, you say you’re not ready yet.

      Bless you, my precious friend. I’m praying for you–your anniversary tomorrow.

      Betty, hang on to Him. You have such a tender heart. I have a feeling God’s going to use you to love others who are hurting, for one thing.

      Wish you were here having coffee with me.

      So much love today. And tomorrow.

  18. MBWA inspires me always as do you J…love what you said to her: It’s about more than writing you know…so true. The size of your fear dictates the size of your life doesn’t it?
    Sending love to you both~ ox

    • wow, Robin.

      The size of your fear dictates the size of your life.

      HUGE. HUGE. HUGE. HUGE. Love it. and I love you.

  19. Sandra Walker says:

    So good to “hear” from your mother! God was so speaking through this post! I don’t have a big thing, it’s just that I am not where I thought I would be in life and most days it is so hard to get up and do the things I have to do, and I fear what’s going to happen (it’s been a rough few years). Today, I have a new attitude and a new goal: God has not called us to fear but to faith (in Him). My job TODAY is to be content and glorify Him, so I have posted on my bathroom mirror “SHUT UP FEAR – FULL STEAM AHEAD!” Your mother’s writing has helped me for over 35 years and now your writing is getting me through becaulse you are real people that “get” me and I “get you”!!! THANK YOU!

    • Sandra, isn’t it sooooo amazing how He speaks through others?!

      I understand about fearing the future. But you’re right on target when you say, God’s called us to Faith. And to be content and glorify Him.

      I love it!!!! You’ve posted what she said on your bathroom mirror!! Can’t wait to tell her.

      Sandra, I don’t think there’s a higher compliment for a writer–“You are real people that get me and I get you.”

      I’ll never forget that you shared this one sentence with me. With us. THAT’S WHY WE WRITE, my friend.

      You made my Saturday.

      Be blessed.

  20. Margaret says:


    Please tell your mom that I’ve missed her stories in Guideposts and look forward to reading more of them. I especially like her animal stories and those that start when she and Gene have had a disagreement and then come to a better understanding of each other.


    • Hey Margaret,

      I believe she has another story coming out in GP in the next few months. Keep watching for it! Sometimes the stories they schedule get moved around, but she’s written something so beautiful. I bet you’ll love it.

      Thank you!

  21. How wonderful to have an inspirational mother! I can’t really tell you what I’m afraid of. I’m too busy tackling things. I guess I’m afraid of being too fractured with my time and energies. I’m afraid my children will grow away from God as adults. I’m afraid I’ll forget what my next steps are. *sigh*

    • Hey Flea,

      Well, you may not have told me your deepest darkest fears, but the ones you shared, I’ve feared too. One thing I DO know–sharing them with others and with God is a brave thing to do. Maybe the first step. He knows your heart–He created us and I’m finally beginning to understand that He’s so incredibly patient with us. And we can’t wear Him out. He keeps welcoming me, even on the days I blow it.

      Thank you for writing. I’m praying for you.

  22. sandy coffey says:

    Never ever give up. You can do it. I get so much out of what you write. I am about to reread all your books that I have had for so many many years and some you have signed for me at your home. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you much, Sandy!!!! Smiling all the way down to my tippy-toes.


  23. Marjorie Hill says:

    How wonderful and blessed you are. Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie says:

      I know–He was so kind in giving me my mother–as a teacher and editor. Although I didn’t think this as I was growing up and she assigned me to be her Junior Editor.


  24. Julie- I loved this! Give your momma a hug from me and tell her she has inspired me to be bolder. I’m learning to give my insecurities and fears to God but some days they just paralyze me. I just love you and your mom’s relationship! thanks for sharing your journey! hugs and much love to you!

    • Cindy, I sure will. 🙂 And I’m blogging about something scary (but wonderful!) that’s she’s doing on tomorrow’s post. (January 27, 2016)

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ll tell her!!


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