When You Have a Dream and You’re Afraid You’ll Fail

When you have a dream, all sorts of doubts, fears, and negative thoughts hound you.

You can’t do this.

You’re wasting your time. 

Stick with something you know.

When you fail, you’re going to look like a fool.

Forget this silly idea and get on with your life.

A few years ago, I had a dream.

I wanted to become a novelist–which is peculiar because as a child, I never planned to write. My mother was a writer. When I was ten, she made me her Junior Editor–a job I didn’t want.  (Marion Bond West, my mom, is below.)

Writers–people like my mother–were strange.

By the time I reached 40, life had blindsided me.

I’d survived clinical depression, lost a full-term baby boy, and attended Al-Anon. Writing helped me focus and listen to God’s healing voice.

In 2004, I entered the Guideposts writers contest and won!

I became what I never planned to be.

One of those weird writers.

For instance–

A writer can be talking to you and suddenly float away to another world. We don’t mean to be rude–it’s just that our minds get crowded. Right now, my brain looks something like this.

This is where I interview my characters. My people. They’re so real to me that I catch myself asking them what’s for supper. 🙂

Another bizarre thing about writers–

At night we dream answers to our plotting problems and hop out of bed to jot them down. We’ll even do this for a good sentence or just the right word.

I’m still working toward my dream.

As I’m writing this post, I’m packing for a novelists retreat in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. I can’t wait! Next week, I’ll learn new things and have fun, but the best part is–

I’ll get to hang out with people who don’t think my dream is strange. 

When you have a dream, surround yourself with friends who believe in you. Sometimes it only takes one! 

 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Thank you. 

You encourage me every week.

I’m so very, very grateful. 

Do you have a dream? Has someone encouraged you along the way?

P.S. I’m taking Lolly my laptop and will be checking comments. 🙂 I haven’t even left home and I already miss you!




The Hardest Battle ~ Mamas and Fear

In memory of our son who would’ve been 24 this Sunday, I’m sharing my first published article. I believe the deeper our sorrow, the more precious our joy. The doctor had been matter-of-fact after my ultrasound, but a certain sentence she said replayed in my mind. “Your baby’s head is so low, I can’t get accurate head measurements, but everything looks fine.” I was 32 weeks pregnant, and my due date was May 28, 1989.

By the time I got into my car, a mighty battle with fear began.

I tried to reassure myself that everything was fine, but since I’d worked for a pediatric group, I was familiar with a term that raced through my thoughts–anencephaly.

“Anencephaly: a birth defect with the absence of some or most of the brain. Chance of occurrence 1 in 1,000.”

My suspicion was too terrifying to share with my doctors or even my husband. I spent hours secretly searching through medical books. Everything I read fueled the battle going on inside me.

Decorating the nursery happened in slow motion. Friends asked why I hadn’t fixed up the room sooner. I pretended to be busy with my daughters, Jamie, 8, and Katie, 6. Finally, as my due date approached, the girls chose a border with geese, hearts, and teddy bears. Rick insisted this would be our boy, so we painted the furniture red and the walls bright yellow.

There. A happy, wonderful nursery. Surely a healthy baby will grow up here.

But my mind continued to battle.

Twelve days past my due date, contractions began and we entered the hospital. Within an hour, and after four ultrasounds, I knew I was living my nightmare. During the third ultrasound, I gravely commented, “You’re trying to find the top of the baby’s head. You’re thinking anencephaly.”

I’d finally spoken the words  that terrified me.

One of the doctors said I was right. They were 90 percent sure our baby had anencephaly.

The labor room squeezed in on me, like I was locked in a horror movie and couldn’t find the exit.

Rick held my hand. “It’ll be OK.”

“You don’t understand. The baby will live hours…at the most.” We stared through a picture window at the pouring rain.

Will I always hate rain?

The doctors communicated through a secret language, moving only their eyes.

God, why won’t anyone smile at me? I want to start over again. Come back later. This can’t be real.

The sounds of the baby’s heart tones seemed to thump…

No hope. No hope. You were right all along.

But deep within me, wedged below the fear, a tiny speck of faith struggled to emerge.

Gently and quietly, bits of Scripture came to me like a life-preserver in rushing water.

When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. Psalms 56:3

Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5

I acknowledged the hope and decided: God, I trust You–no matter what.

Within a few minutes, my trembling stopped. I felt as if I were floating on a raft in the middle of a warm, still lake.

My God shall meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

But worry jabbed at me. “What about the girls? How will they understand?” I said to Rick.

“I’ll tell them.”

The delivery was long and difficult. Our son, Robert Clifford Garmon, was born at 3:20 a.m. on June 9, 1989. He lived 25 minutes.

There were no triumphant, “It’s a boy!” shouts.

Total silence.

Each person played his or her part in a pantomime. I wanted to scream, “Somebody, please say something. Stop looking away!”

I didn’t cry until we were in the recovery room.

I asked to see Robbie. He’d been wrapped in a blue blanket and had on a little white cap. He face was bruised from delivery but perfect. He weighed just over six pounds. He came and left so quickly.

Hello, Robbie. Goodbye, Robbie.

Rick hurried home to take apart the nursery and make funeral plans. The doctors released me nine hours after Robbie’s birth.

We left the hospital and drove to Mother’s to pick up the girls. Rick had explained to them about their brother and told me they were fine, but I pictured their sad faces–felt their disappointment.

When we drove up, they ran down Mother’s driveway smiling, holding boxes of Nerds candy. Katie’s pigtails bounced as she said, “If Robbie’d lived, we’d have bought him some Nerds, but he’s in heaven.”

Jamie added, “Grady’s probably holding him right now.” (Grady, my father, had died five years earlier.)

Genuine smiles.

Acceptance in the face of tragedy.

Children’s broken bones heal faster than adults. Maybe their hearts do too.

My heart took a little longer to heal.

Some days I felt strong, but grief is tricky. It sneaks up from behind and throws unexpected punches.

The soft color of baby blue felt like a quick jab to the jaw. Seeing newborn babies, especially boys, could knock me down for a while.

A week before Robbie was born, my grandmother Goge gently offered me some advice. Here words seemed like an extra puzzle piece. I tried turning them to every angle, but they didn’t fit. I hadn’t asked for her help. Now her words slid easily into my heart.

“Julie,” she said softly. “The hardest battles aren’t fought on the battlefield, but in a mother’s heart.”


Two years later, we drove to a different hospital. There was no rain in sight that hot, steamy August day.

Pretty soon, loud crying announced the arrival of another son–Richard Thomas Garmon. Watching Rick hold Thomas–his perfectly formed head inside my husband’s hands, a prayer of gratitude rose .

Thank You, God. You were there the whole time–even when it didn’t make sense. You never left my side.


** Please forgive the length of this blog post.

** “The Hardest Battle” was published by Homelife magazine out of LIFEWAY, January, 2002.

Love and prayers,