Chasing a Dream in the Midst and in the Afters


A_SarahI have a confession for you: sometimes I used to get so mad at the Inklings. I have felt resentful because C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and all these other writers, real writers, had luxuries like housekeepers and pubs and colleagues and writing cabins and a way to pay their bills, they had creature comforts and every time the Muse arrived, they didn’t have to shush her, plead with her to come back later because, right now, Muse, can’t you see? Preschool, supper, diapers, bath times, and everything wonderful in my life needs my attention.

I’m not someone who has pursued a very traditional path to becoming a writer. Even now, my life doesn’t resemble the Great Writers and their habits.

Instead, I imagined my little yellow book while I was a full time working mum with another one on the way. And then I actually wrote most of it while I was on maternity leave with a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a newborn.  I remember once crying in self-pity, “Hell, anyone could have written the Narnia books if they had a housekeeper and sustained silence. Even I could construct Middle Earth if I had a full night’s sleep!

Instead, I wrote most of my book at my kitchen table during naptimes or sitting on the bathroom floor while a kid was in the bathtub or at the public library with earphones on so that the study groups of teenagers wouldn’t distract me.

This is the season of chasing my dream in the Midst of my life and in the Afters of my life: in the midst of raising tinies, after supper, after bath times, after stories, after kitchen dance parties, in the midst of Saturday morning cartoons, after bills are paid, after work, after groceries are put away, after laundry is folded.

If it wasn’t like this, I don’t know what I would write about anyway. Our lives are always content. I remember hearing once that all theology has its roots in autobiography.

My book grew so organically out of my life, out of my work, that it was begging me to be born. Madeline L’Engle wrote in her book “Walking on Water”—which is probably my absolute favourite book about writing—that “the artist is a servant who is willing to be a birthgiver.”

About six years ago when I was pregnant with our son, my husband sent me to writing conference. In a grand gesture of love, he researched writer festivals, found one that was a Christian one, and he booked my ticket and a hotel, and sent me there for the weekend.

It was awful.

So, so, so painfully awful.

On the last day, I attended a session for aspiring writers. There was an agent and two publishers leading the talk. And for the next 45 minutes they pretty much told us all to get over it.  They spoke of networking and conferences. They talked about critique groups and pages per day. They spelled out the strategic steps to publishing with black and white Powerpoints. They cautioned against optimism, warned that publishing was nearly dead, made fun of ebooks and self-publishers and bloggers. They were insiders, they were the gatekeepers. I felt so painfully outside. They cited stats and probabilities, they talked about how no one ever gets published without huge platform–like “mega church platform” big, about how none of us would probably ever have a published book. If we didn’t have a big platform, we needed a unique voice. And to develop a unique voice, you need so much time and focus and practice. Who are you to write a book? they asked nicely.

I believed them. Of course, I believed them. So if this was the path to becoming a writer, now I knew the truth: I couldn’t walk that path.

I went back the hotel that night, and I sat in the middle of the floor. I laid out all of my dreams for God to look at. I said, God, do you remember in grade two? Do you remember how I wrote my first story about a snow bunny? Do you remember Mrs. Phillips? She told me I would be a writer. I believed her. Do you remember that? Do you remember how I filled journal after journal with terrible poetry throughout my teens? Do you remember how I scored as a writer and an artist on every single career testing thing? Do you remember how I wrote essays and short stories, under the covers, with flashlights? Do you remember that? And now I know I have been wasting my time. I will never be a writer, will I? I will never be a writer. This is not going to happen for me.

That night in that hotel room, I admitted it at last: my dream of being a writer was dead.

And, I kid you not, I heard God. That has only happened one other time in my life, in a real, feels-audible-look-over-your-shoulder-did-you-hear-that sort of way. But I heard (or sensed or felt or received a message from God, however you want to think about it, I don’t really care what you call it, I just know I heard God.), “You may never be published but that doesn’t change the way I made you. You’re a writer. Stop caring about the other stuff—platform, publishing, voice, approval of others—and just write. I’ll meet you there.

I came home from that conference  depleted, and calling-less. The white flame that had existed in my heart, setting me apart as a writer and an artist, had disappeared. I would never be a real writer.

So I just began to write anyway.

Soon after I buried my dreams of being a writer, I was reading through the Sermon on the Mount when I read a few words from Jesus that felt new to me—this wasn’t really possible: I’d read them dozens of times, no doubt. But the Holy Spirit has a way of illuminating the words I need to know or live into at that moment. The words were spoken by Jesus in Luke 6:43: You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.”

Some people have found that God asked them to lay down their gifts during seasons of great change or growth in their life. For me,

 Not only did I read Scripture like it was a lifeline—because for me, it was—but I found other writers as companions for the journey, too. I wrote my way right through and into another soul-birth. I wrote my way through loss and miscarriages, through birth and recovery and the transformation of motherhood. I wrote my way through Scripture and tension, through the building of my foundation in the wilderness, through my wandering and unsteady discipleship, my passions for social justice and women’s issues, through my anger and my frustrations, my indignities and even my sacred rhythms of the right-now life.

I began to practice living my life, as it stood, right now, in the way of Christ—often with mixed results—and then, as always, I wrote my way through it.

The decision to quit writing with an agenda gave me the freedom to write.

Now, I had no expectation, no strategy. I could—without motive or aspiration—simply write what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I could write about prayer, about motherhood, about discipleship, about feminism, about marriage, about Church, and even about knitting or my geekery over the television shows Doctor Who and Call the Midwife.

And so I found my voice, hiding in the midst of a life-giving life, just as Jesus said. He goes on in that 6th chapter of Luke to say that his “words aren’t mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.”

And me? I was writing. I wrote almost daily, and finally, after about three years of daily blogging in almost complete obscurity, I found my voice. Every opportunity came organically through relationships, not through a well-crafted pitch.

I began to understand why God told me to keep writing that night at the writing-conference-where-I-quit-writing though. After all, I had been healed, set free, and made whole through this discipline. God met me here, and He was enough, always had been, always would be.

If you feel like your dream cannot come true because your life doesn’t match the one-two-three steps to success of the experts, don’t despair.

Our God makes a way in the wilderness.

And for me, an organic, spirit-led, sure-why-not path of writing in the Midst and in the Afters lead me right where I had always wanted to be.

I am sensing God’s laughter in this story. When I laid it all down, when I said I didn’t care about platforms or networking, about publishing or any of it, when I just wanted to write, when I simply wanted to show up in my own life with gratitude and grace, when I was clacking at the laptop during naptime and scribbling in notebooks at lunch breaks, and God kept meeting me in the most ordinary, most radical, seemingly inconsequential and seed-like of ways, then, then, then, the dream came true.

There isn’t one way to be a writer. A lot of us write in the Midst and in the Afters.

There isn’t one way to see your dream flourish. A lot of us live into a dream-come-true in the Midst and in the Afters.

The experts tell us we can’t flourish like this, but we’re doing it anyway.

Now this season is very dear to me.  It feeds my creativity. The more full my life becomes, the more words rise up for me and the more dreams take shape. I’m working on a new book, oh, yes, I am. I’m still the mother of three tinies whose needs have become more complex as they begin to grow up. I still type in coffee shops and public libraries and in my pink kitchen. I’m still passionate about stuff above my pay grade.

I’m still writing in the Midst and in the Afters. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sarah Bessey

Sarah Bessey

Sarah Bessey is the author of Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith and Jesus Feminist. She is an award-winning blogger and writer who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia with her husband and their four tinies. You can find her online at or on Twitter at @sarahbessey.
Sarah Bessey

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  1. I know this was written a long time ago, but I stumbled across it today and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  2. Kelly Christian says:

    um….you wrote this two years ago. but right now i’m balling at my table. dear Lord thank you, girl. i’m so elated for your journey, love all you write (i’ve visited your blog) and just feeling the touch.

  3. Sarah, just wanted to add to the chorus of AMENs here … this piece moves me deeply. I’ve read it on three separate occasions and found myself in tears each time. Thank you.

    Your story speaks to me right where I am — in love with writing as I’ve been my whole life, but feeling like I’m ‘failing’ in the sense of numbers and platforms and all that. I’ve learned a lot, but still feel like dreams of authorship are a million miles away. Yet your words remind me that I cannot see how the journey will unfold, but I can trust the One who walks with me.

    I’m also reminded of what a close friend told me one day when I was discouraged about the ‘success’ of a guest post. She said, “Honey, you made me cry in my kitchen!” And all at once, that became a new definition of success for me: not just subscriber numbers, but making people cry in their kitchens. And by that definition, this post of yours is a glorious success! 😉 Thank you again. xo

  4. Merritt says:

    Oh Sarah, this brings tears to my eyes. I’ve been in such a slump in my writing trying to make things work a certain way (and muttering through my own Midst and Afters, saying I’ll write LATER, when I’m not so tired, hungry, busy….). Thank you for this deep, honest, and touching reminder that if God made me to write, that I don’t have to have a formula to do it. I just have to let my heart be wholly His. He will lead the way. Your words are a precious balm to my heart today. Thanks.

  5. Marie Bride says:

    Oh Sarah,
    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
    I Loved this post especially the mention of Scriptures and your hearing the voice of God!
    Touched my very soul!

    Blessings Dear Sarah

  6. Sarah, while I don’t have the littles at home anymore, there’s still so much of life to live and I too have been bothered by all the things “they” say we must do. Who put “them” in charge anyway? Honestly, I don’t think it can be done. You can’t write and be in a hundred different communities and build a platform on every social media outlet and take good pictures and write good words and…and…and. I’m convinced it’s as much a myth as a unicorn. Yet we run ourselves ragged trying to find the unicorn and chasing it down every new path. Thanks for the permission to stop chasing! Thanks for the encouragement to live life, write the words I love, and continue leaving the outcome up to God. It’s always been in His hands anyway!

  7. I love this. So encourgaing.

  8. Astrid says:

    Thank you for writing this. I needed to hear/read this for my own life.

  9. I used to get mad at the Inklings too!! (: And Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau, and all of the other male writers who could lock themselves away in a room all day to write and think and that was their work!!! I actually still do get mad at them…If I’m honest! I heard a message by a really well known preacher a couple of months ago (someone I actually really like and respect!) and he was talking about margin in our lives, and clearing the clutter and how he can’t work in his office until it is picked up and he makes some sense of it…and, though I appreciated his words, I wanted to scream “Dude!! Must be nice to actually have TIME to clean up your workspace before you sit down to work and think and write!!” My workspace is my home, with three young children and it is NEVER clean lately…making me feel like I’ll never have my own mind in order to write the things I”d like ): Anyhow, you touched on a deep seeded discouragement in my soul that I am still working through— I do LOVE my life…I just also really love thinking, and reading and learning and writing and it feels really hard to fit that in in any tangible way during this season…Thankful to have read this in the midst of trying to figure it all out. A friend actually shared this post with our small writing group this week (:

  10. I needed this. Thank you

  11. pastordt says:

    Thank you. I’m so, so grateful you started that blog, that you listened to the Voice over your shoulder, and you kept.on.writing.

  12. Amanda says:

    oh my, this has been me for a while, wanting to write, but not knowing the “formula.” or what’s the goal, what am I shooting for (because you can’t do anything without a target right?)? sometimes its just to get all this stuff in the heart and the brain out so I can process it better, and come back to it to argue with myself and God about it. I am not even sure there is a goal, there was once a goal for a blog, but I’m not sure I should have a goal to have even a blog (which is a funny, funny word, by the way), but maybe the goal is to just to cast out words and see if they bring anything back to me via the Spirit?

  13. I took a big gulp in my dream following about a month ago and signed up for ‘Pitch Perfect’ with Christine Chitnis (out of Squam)- and it has been absolutely lovely and I’d highly recommend it! BUT…man oh man. It has been scary and eye opening and lovely and awful to consider this next step in what I feel called to…and I *really* needed to hear what you had to say today. Thank you so much for affirming that it is ok to work in the margins, to listen close to the quiet voice. it means so much to me today.

  14. Beautiful, Sarah. It’s my favourite of your pieces, and the most encouraging for me 🙂

  15. Traci Rostamo says:

    Love this! Writing has always been an overflow of the Soul for me. It just cannot be contained or spelled out in “steps”.

  16. nietzschesdownfall says:

    Thanks for this, Sarah. I needed it so, so much. When you’re logging over 60 hours a week at a dead end job and come home exhausted, it’s hard to even think about writing, and couple that with all the things that writers worry about, and its enough to keep my fingers off the keyboard or the notepad. The midst and the afters can either distract me, or they can better inform me in my writing. Thank you again. 🙂

  17. I read this post at the right time. I’ve been blogging for about 2 years and recently found my own voice. I do think when we push past what we think others expect of us, that is when the magic happens. God has been telling me that for a while, and I think your post helped cement it for me. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Your posts are always authentic and real.

  18. Frances Stone says:

    Great piece! I know for me, I am a writer because I must write. I must or the words, the poem, the message in me will die in me and I would have never done what I was called to do, birth it, give “it” a voice. And if I didn’t follow that lead, that voice that whispered, WRITE, without knowing WHY, I would have missed my life, my calling, my purpose. I think society confuses being a writer, an artist, etc with getting paid, as though that is the measure, the value and worth of our efforts. Its not. Its connection. Connecting to other people and their heart, vision, story. That’s worth more than rubies! Thanks for connecting with me:)! Paid in FULL.

  19. Lisa Goodwin says:

    Virginia Woolf said that the job of the writer is to create beauty and speak the truth. You succeed marvelously on both counts. Thank you Sarah.

  20. I am a musician with 10 years of piano, five years of voice and hundreds instructed students of piano and voice. I have written poetry and lyrics since the age of ten. I. Am. A. Lover. Of. Words.

    I set aside that love for 40 years to raise my family. I launched a blog on my 50th birthday to be a writer of words. I have journaled since my teens and now, for the love of all inspired thoughts, my words took flight on April 18, 2012. A mere three months after being accepted into Holley Gerth’s God-Sized Dreams Team.

    I am a dreamer from a long line of dreamers! The opportunity to be mentored, partnered with 31 years of marriage, words came freely and full joy ensued!

    I was inspired to believe, to dream and to revel in the fact that it is NEVER too late to start after a brief meeting with Regis Philbin. He spoke to me with sincerity and humility. He would soon retire and there were two pressing questions in my heart. You are a communicator of words, with purpose and a specific message. What wisdom would you share from your years of experience? What is your biggest regret?

    His reply would stun not only myself, but those around me. First, do what you love. Believe in what you love ad never give up! My biggest regret is that my career only began AFTER the age of 50. I wish there had been more time to enjoy this journey. But I have learned that the wait was so worth the joy of doing what I was created to do. Words. Well. Said.

    His words were life-changing. In that moment, I realized that the dream that God had placed in my heart so very long ago was worthy of pursuit. Rather than having missed that last 40 years, I had gained a renewed fervor that it is never too late to start. A. New. Beginning.

    While I am not a believer in fortune cookies, the very day that I received the “you have been chosen” email from Holley Gerth, my husband and I dined at P. F. Changs. I have celiac disease, so I live a gluten-free lifestyle and cannot even eat a fortune cookie. God’s providential hand who lead me to make the first choice of the two fortune cookies on the

    plate. I laughed as I popped it open and handed over the cookie to my husband and opened the small slip inside.

    “You are a lover of words. someday you should write a book.” Amazing God’s timing to speak to my heart so clearly.

    I have a very demanding 24/7 ministry life in NASCAR. I travel with my husband 26 full weeks out of the year. I am literally washing clothes and loading new ones into our motorhome and most often, I have no idea where my underwear is. Ha! Probably SOOOO inappropriate! Sorry. This year we will log 12,000 miles of driving. My days are 12-16 hours and I cannot imagine doing anything else in the world. It is why I breathe.

    In the midst. In the Afters. I am blogging about life’s simple joys from my view of life in the fast lane…Still dreaming.

    I AM a lover of words…and when the Lord allows my life to slow…I write. And this season of my life….is sweet, full and while my acclaim may never grace the shelves or make the best seller list……My life is graced…..and I would not have it any other way!

  21. Megan Nilsen says:

    So good! Thank you, Sarah – for sharing your heart and for inspiring us in the midst of, in spite of and despite the beginnings, the afters and all the in-betweens. I resonate with so much of what you shared here. Write on!

  22. Julie Cochrane says:

    Sarah, this is so life-giving! Love how Jesus, the Word, said, “Just write, I’ll meet you there” – can see Him now at the cross roads of my tired indecision, telling me that He is reading all my words, and he’s delighted… sharing in His nature of self-expression 🙂 And at the end of the day, there is no greater audience.

  23. Holly says:

    Sarah, these words were a balm to my wrung out heart. As someone who has walked more assuredly into this writing life at a later age than most folks I read on the internet, I have often found myself weary before I have really begun. These past 7-8 months I stepped back from all things writerly and platformy, and whatever else “they” say is necessary in order to make oneself heard, so that I could be fully present and alive in the places that matter most. For me, that was walking with my mom through multiple chemo treatments and, just recently, her passing. Never before have I felt more like all I have are the “in the midsts” and the “Afters.” But your words here? They validate EVERY SINGLE MOMENT that I wasn’t in front of a flashing screen or booking my face or tweeting off tune. Because those moments have shaped me and carved out hidden places and I know, I REALLY know now, that the words will be the path out of the dark.
    You know, it was through first reading your blog, your words, that I learned of SheLoves. And now? Well, here I am and I couldn’t quit this corner of the internet if I wanted to and that has made all the difference in the world.
    A million thank yous. For all of it.

    • Love to you, Holly. I can’t seem to find the right words but I so get this down deep.

    • pastordt says:

      I surely do love you, Holly Grantham. And I pray for you throughout some days, whenever your sweet face rises before me. You will write your velvety, beautiful words ALWAYS in and around life. And honey? If you think YOU’RE ‘at a later age,’ take a gander over thisaways.

  24. Amy Hunt says:

    Yes, your right now life, as it is. Yes. This and all of this.

    (God told me you’re to write about Matthew 11 . . . I trust you are.) — you’ve been on my heart in the morning’s these days. We’re kindred souls, you know.

  25. Thea van Diepen says:

    Thank you for this post. I really needed to hear what you had to say today.

  26. Oh, wow, so timely and so encouraging. Thank you so much for this post!

  27. Oh yes! I too am writing in the Midst and the Afters. Juggling one (soon to be two) small part-time jobs to help pay the bills, getting kids fed and off to school and overseeing homework and cooking dinner and, and, and…

    I’ve worried when the ‘experts’ say that I’m too old, that if I wanted to write fiction (or anything) I should have started two decades ago. I’ve worried that I’m too ordinary. I’ve worried that it’s all been said and written before, and better.

    And I’ve decided that none of it matters, that ever since 3rd grade THIS has been the dream that I have come back to over and over. That if anyone ever asked me my deepest dream, it would be to write. So now, I write. And I’m daring to call myself a writer, to speak it out loud and not in secret, even if the dream-come-true never happens.

  28. Thank you for letting me sit at your feet here. And for directing my gaze right into His eyes. It’s so easy to be stuck in the wilderness, the midst, the now is not the right time hole. But Jesus…the author and perfecter. xo

  29. AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience says:

    Yes! Writing in the midst and the afters with 6 and meeting God in the mess…. and immensely grateful for now.
    Thank you, friend.

  30. makeda says:

    Goodness! These words were so perfect for me today. I am in the middle of this story unfolding that isn’t going exactly as I, or really anyone, thinks it should be still I know He is here orchestrating every detail. Your story reminded me to not get discouraged just because it doesn’t look anything like “they” say it should. Thank you!

  31. Oh Sarah – this is SO fantastic and inspiring! I’m always so grateful when you share your story. Your writing TRULY has been some of the most inspiring words I’ve read on the internet or in print. You are such an encourager through your words. I don’t have tinies (one of my struggles is infertility), but I hope to one day. Madeleine’s Walking On Water is my most favorite book as a fellow creative, and her wisdom to all of us is so important. I am beyond excited to read your next book whenever it releases into the world. I am so grateful for you, and for your willingness to step into the obedience and faith and mystery of the words given to you by God. I’ve struggled with believing not only that I can be a writer, but that God is going to continue to let me/give me opportunities as a performer. I would say that your wise words of “there isn’t one way to be a writer” is also how I feel about being a singer and an actor. Thanks again for your beautiful story and your encouragement. Love and Blessings to you!

  32. Hell yes, we’re doing it anyway! (So say we all!) This is how I write, too, as suitcases are strewn across my living room filling up with books and clothes and sundries bound for Burundi. As my daughter is in school or in the other room watching her favorite show, as my platform is small but my reading list growing longer by the day, as we work in community development enterprises and I cry over the sheer glory of the transformation the Spirit brings to these places, these people. Writing happens here – where else?

  33. JennaDeWitt says:

    I think in this world of “instant” everything we forget how long it takes. Just hearing that you blogged in obscurity for three years, you were already writing JF before your youngest was born, even those Inklings took YEARS to publish their most famous novels. Narnia includes an apology that it took so long and the children he wrote it for grew up in the meantime. Not to mention how long it took Tolkien to actually publish LOTR. Decades of work.

    • Oh, girl, I blogged for MANY more years than the three after that conference. I couldn’t get someone to read my blog if I paid them. And that was when the blog world was much smaller, too. I so get that.

      • JennaDeWitt says:

        yeah, and now there’s the complication of social media advertising… Facebook’s pay-or-die changes haven’t helped my little 3-year-old free magazine for sure.

  34. O, how you inspire. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  35. As soon as I came across the words “writer festivals” I IMMEDIATELY googled it and was like OH I should go to one of those! Writer-y things! Writer festivals! Just like Sarah Bessey! Well then I read the next sentence. Hah! Someone once told me I am easily excitable… Well all this just makes me that much more grateful for this piece of encouragement today. There is no quick fix (writer festivals!), no singular path, no formula to becoming a writer. I need to do it because I want to, because I have something to say, and do it in the midst and in the afters.

  36. Jessi says:

    I think we idealize that one part of their lives. But the most of the Inklings were full time professors, tutors, and publishers. Many of them were married and raising families (even if Lewis himself didn’t until later in life). The opening line for The Hobbit was first written on a student’s exam book. I’ve been saying that I’m too busy to write for years, but life keeps getting busier and somehow I’m still living it. Which tells me that there’s room in there SOMEWHERE, I just haven’t found it yet.

    • Kirsten says:

      I agree. I don’t know as much about Tolkien, but I do remember
      reading The Narnian (biography of Lewis) by Alan Jacobs a number of years ago, and finding out that Lewis was very much a
      caregiver, with much of his time (also when he was writing the Narnia books) taken up with other people’s needs.

  37. Claire De Boer cjdeboer says:

    Yes! I love your journey with writing and how your love of Jesus brought you to this place where you have shared (and continue to share) your beautiful words with the world. Thank you for such an encouraging post, Sarah!

    • Thanks, Claire – I think that’s why your work/blog is so important and vital for writers in the “midst and afters.” Thank you for aways encouraging.

  38. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk says:

    This is the way of the grain of wheat – falling to the ground and dying. Funny how we cannot produce that effect (trick ourselves into it – hmmmm . . . I’ll “give up” writing a book so I can get published). No, most often it does really feel like the death and dying of a dream, a dark corner we walk toward but cannot see our way around. What I’m wondering, Sarah, is how you knew you found your voice? What did that look like? Was it an inner knowing? Affirmed by community? Affirmed by “platform”? I continue to just write, trusting something more is happening (ie grace) – I think a voice is emerging, but sometimes it still feels like a mystery, even to me.

    • I think it’s one of those things where “when you know, you know” which isn’t helpful at all. But now I know when I’m being inauthentic and when the words on the page just aren’t “me” – that’s hard to explain though.

  39. Oh how I love this, Sarah. I wrote a similar post last week, because I see so much scarcity in the way that the publishing gatekeepers and certain bestselling authors talk about the writing process. The exclusivity and elitism are creativity killers. I’m choosing to write from a place of faithfulness and abundance instead, even if it looks like writing in the midst and the afters. Thank you for being so inclusive and affirming for others, even as your platform grows. I’m so grateful for your voice, friend.

  40. 🙂 Preach it: “If you feel like your dream cannot come true because your life doesn’t match the one-two-three steps to success of the experts, don’t despair. Our God makes a way in the wilderness.” My journey has been the opposite of one-two-three steps… one downward spiral after another… A decade of losses, wandering aimlessly, and wondering what the heck all those aptitude tests had meant when they said I should be a minister and a writer. Family, good friends, and good mentors have helped me through the process of owning my calling and finding my voice. But mostly the process has happened in dark and desperate places that have required leaning–truly leaning–into the strength of God’s Presence. Grad school opened a trickle of opportunities, and one thing has led to another. Successes and failures don’t weigh as much to me these days. I ask for a lot of things in life, and hear “no” a lot. Each “no” is like a road sign pointing in a new direction as I look for God’s yeses.

  41. Tracy Stella says:

    What a fabulous post! I couldn’t agree more, but it was wonderful to read your well-crafted words on the topic. Understanding God’s purposes might not be the same as ours, liberates us to launch into our dreams in spite of fear about platform and publishing. If those are not our primary objective, platform and publishing “impossibilties” don’t hold us captive. God’s plan is bigger than that and we never know how He will use the gifts He has given us. Nor do we know what doors God will open, or perhaps leave shut because it’s not His best plan for us. Do I want to reach people? Of course. But I have to trust God’s timing and intent and remind myself of that when I falter in my humanity.

  42. Beverley Dankers says:

    What an amazing piece of encouragement to people like me! Praise God for using you to tell me just what he knew I needed to hear at this exact moment! God bless you as you use the words that creatively flow from your heart to inspire others. Thank you.

  43. Stefanie Thomas Stefanie says:

    “…just write. I’ll meet you there.” Oh how I love this, Sarah. As a full-time worker who’s had stories swirling around inside for years, I often wonder if or how I’ll ever make room to get them out. Thank you for the inspiration!

  44. You might enjoy Tillie Olsen’s “Silences.”
    Said the New York Times in her 2007 obit,
    ‘Ms. Olsen returned to issues of feminism and social struggle throughout her work, publishing a nonfiction book, “Silences,” in 1978, an examination of the impediments that writers face because of sex, race or social class. Reviewing the book in The New York Times Book Review, Margaret Atwood attributed Ms. Olsen’s relatively small output to her full life as a wife and mother, a “grueling obstacle course” experienced by many writers.
    ‘“It begins with an account, first drafted in 1962, of her own long, circumstantially enforced silence,” Ms. Atwood wrote. “She did not write for a very simple reason: A day has 24 hours. For 20 years she had no time, no energy and none of the money that would have bought both.”’

  45. Nicole A. Joshua says:

    “There isn’t one way to be a writer.” I will be sitting with this for a while. Thank you, Sarah. You wrote JUST what I needed to hear.

  46. Monica says:

    Love this! Sarah, you write the words I long to express, confirm that what I am living is okay and that there is nothing wrong with me or my journey. The life I am living is the way God’s call on my life will be seen, known and heard. Thanks for a new perspective on ministry, ministering and being in the midst and afters. Love this! (I think I might print this and keep as a reminder!)

  47. Sarah Joslyn Sarah Joslyn says:

    Oh glory, Sarah! I keep hearing how I’ll need to get away and be alone and quiet to get any writing done because there’s no way to fit it into my messy life. That’s just not going to happen right now and I adore you for proving to be a GREAT writer, even without the luxuries that The Great Writers had. xoxo

  48. Helen Burns Helen Burns says:

    How absolutely liberating Sarah! I love how you found your powerful voice in the midst of this beautiful ‘mess’ we call life. What a gorgeous invitation to everyone to find their voice, their place, their purpose and calling by hearing the whispers of God, not the opinions of man.

    I adore you and I am one who is so very, very grateful for your voice.

    Much love,

    Helen xo

    • I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned from women like yourself, Helen – ministry isn’t opposed to family/marriage/life, it’s the overflow of life. Thank you for how you lead!

  49. sandyhay says:

    Thank you thank you Sarah for listening to the “right” voice so your voice can be herd around the world (even in NJ;)

  50. Rachel 'Pieh' Jones says:

    This made me laugh: “Even I could create middle earth if I had a full night’s sleep!” I hear you, sister. Write on. In the middle of all of it, and we’ll keep reading, in the middle of all of it.

    • Donna-Jean says:

      Totally! Laughing at “Anyone could have written Narnia…”
      All those adulated famous men in history – ya gotta wonder about their mothers, wives, daughters.

      • One does have to wonder….

        • Maureen Garcia says:

          Actually one doesn’t have to wonder at all, at least not about Lewis’ female relations. It’s all over his writings. He does write about dealing with interruptions (while he never had the opportunity to be inundated with meeting the needs of tinies of his own, he did have some interesting and stressful relational responsibilities that took time away from his writing). One of the things that inspires me about Lewis is that he didn’t just write Narnia…he wrote works of scholarship, lectures on medieval literature, letters to all his fans who wrote him (with the help of his brother), letters to his many many pen pals (one of which he eventually married) poetry, lay theology, journals, science fiction novels, fantasy novels, retold myth…etc. He wrote skillfully and prolifically across many genres…so there’s my i love Lewis rant for today : ) By the way: i LOVE this piece Sarah,…you rock in so many ways!

    • Sacrilege, I know. 🙂

      • Donna-Jean says:

        Not to me – or if so, that’s one of your gifts to the world, especially the Christian-y world 😉


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  2. […] via Chasing a Dream in the Midst and in the Afters – SheLoves Magazine. […]

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  7. […] Chasing a Dream in the Midst and the Afters. On being a writer who has a few other responsibilities too, on giving up dreams and finding them […]

  8. […] started with this piece about writing by Sarah Bessey because it resonates. I hoped it would help him understand why […]

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