When Fear Postpones the Birth of Dreams – Guest Post by Shelly Miller – Painting Prose


What more can I say other than that I adore Shelly’s writing? I am thrilled beyond words to hear her mention the four-letter b word, “book”, and can not wait until she shares her thoughts with the world. Her prose is full of images both visual and experiential. In this piece, I see daffodils waving in the wind, and I feel the heartache of letting a child mature…and as usual, she stirs my emotions with her poetry in prose. Please accept my invitation to visit her beautiful blog…Redemption’s Beauty.

Daffodils stand at attention in perfect rows, their yellow faces saluting the sun. Branches sway windy, waving pink fairy dust as I breathe the beauty of what blurs past my windshield. New life pops confetti on bare branches and today, I let go of my daughter’s hand. Watch her dance the last stanzas of childhood in this circle of life we share.
She turns sixteen today. A day she begins to collect her own packet of seeds to scatter. (Mark 4)
Because aren’t we all farmers of what he gives?
Yesterday I squeezed her dimpled knuckles. Today, wearing wet hair and tall boots, she drives away in her white Volvo with cardboard owl swinging from the mirror, pop music vibrating.
Later, in the quiet empty, I wipe off the syrup pitcher, put her dirty dishes in the sink, notice the pile of cards holding checks from friends stacked neatly beside her place at the bar. Pieces of hope paper stacked for the promise of a mission trip to Jamaica.
Sixteen years ago, H caught me standing in the closet sobbing silent tears over my pregnant stomach. Fear puddled out in knowing what my mind could not comprehend. That this life inside would change me, change us forever. I didn’t know how to master cultivating a successful life.
Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?
A book of invisible pages revealed to the muse in whispers by the author, at the turn of each day.

Last night, I crawl into bed next to my husband, sigh deep and he asks me what I am thinking.
I share my brick on the chest feeling over the birth of this book-writing journey. How words stumble when someone asks me why I haven’t started the book yet. Because I don’t know how to conquer this petrifying perfectionism that needs to know the outcome before I start something new.
Sixteen years later, I am pregnant once again, gasping for breath and knowing I won’t know the outcome about this either. The fear of failure postpones birth.
When He gave me my own packet of seeds all those years ago, they came with simple instructions. Just plant, water and weed. The outcome, well that is His job.
I cannot see all of the beautiful blooms yet on the life that is my daughter; what color they will be, how tall they will grow, how long they will remain on the vine. I cannot linger over the engraved letters on the spine of the book penned in my name, know how many hands will hold it, or how it will transform a life.
But I will continue to do my part: plant, water and weed.
I will wait on Him for the outcome.

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. Mark 4:20 ESV
Are you stuck because of fear of the failure? Has it kept you from birthing a dream?

Please take the time to comment and let Shelly know how much this piece blessed you!

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!

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44 thoughts on “When Fear Postpones the Birth of Dreams – Guest Post by Shelly Miller – Painting Prose

  1. Shelly, your words always seem to bless me. . .
    “Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?”
    love that beauty.
    fear of failure? I know it well. and am striving to overcome it.
    Blessings to you!
    All for Him,
    Nikki

  2. I love beautiful the analogy and the words of wisdom. Truly how marvelous it is that we have been given leave to mark on pages all ready filled by the hand of the Master.

    I can relate to all your fears in regards to writing a book. I can’t wait to see it in print!

  3. Shelly…I stand up and give you a big cheer…cheering you on… may our words here help you breath as you”re in “labor”…deep breath…cleansing breaths…just like the birth of a child…the contractions of writing will get stronger…you know that moment…when it hits you in labor…I don’t want to do this…but you know there is no turning back…I pray you have wonderful people around you to help “coach” you through this labor of writing.
    Happy birthday to you daughter…new freedom…big changes…blessings to you.

    1. Oh my goodness Ro, your words have brought tears to my eyes. I feel God in them and thank you from the depths of my heart. You standing there cheering for me, helping me through these labor pains – and what a gift that is. True grace.

  4. You know I can smell those daffodils from afar; they are as real as a picture can get. But that second image, what are those beauties in all their wild glory?

    Who can master a life He gives with a story already written? We can do this. How? Follow the storyline chapter by chapter. It seems we are on the same chapter here, with 16-yr.-olds blooming with color.

    The fear of failure postpones birth. Thank you for this dear Shelly. This, I will remind myself of this whenever I’m tempted toward slackness. I don’t want to die with the music within. What a sad day :-(

    But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. My prayer for a long, long time has been to bear 100fold.

    1. Debra, I think they are some kind of cherry tree with tiny little pink blossoms on the leaves. I almost included that photo! And I love your thoughts as always. I don’t want to die with the music within – I think of this often in the context of writing. That what we leave behind will continue to sing long after we live our days. That is the grace gift and may our words bear one hundred fold for the Kingdom.

  5. “The outcome, well, that is His job.”

    And therein lies what should be easy, but is so often hard–just doing what he calls us to do without feeling responsible ourselves for the outcome. Isn’t it really a blessing? I just have to remember to see it so.

    Thanks for the beautiful post.

    1. It’s my issue too Lisa. It paralyzes me in so many areas – my kids, my work, ministry, just anything new and challenging actually. I have to constantly lay it at the foot of the cross and trust Him. Wish it were easier. That I could just get it and move on.

  6. You can do this thing, Shelly. You’ve got the talent and the drive. Just take it one little bit at a time. Don’t think of it as a whole big, fat book…just approach it as a blog post at a time, and then weave them together. I know, I’m oversimplifying it. But I think sometimes we get paralyzed by the bigness of it.

    As for fear…yup, I’m battling it bigtime these last few weeks as I prepare to take a big leap. Praying, trusting, that He’s got my back. Praying that for you a well, my friend.

    1. Thanks for that coaching Michelle, it means so much coming from you. And it does feel overwhelming, the bigness of the task.

      I believe in you my friend, know your dreams will come to pass in His timing. So glad we can hold each other up with our prayers along the journey. Just knowing that makes it easier.

    1. When I was hired to be a writer, before I knew how to write (because my life is just that way) I had to push through the fear of failure that nearly caused me to miss out on the great blessing of knowing a community like this one. I never would have imagined I would be on this journey had I not become a writer those years ago.

  7. I read you words and remembered these words….”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

    It falls….into darkness, alone…dies. But if submits to this death, which really is a rebirth…it bears MUCH fruit.

    You have made it to the light…the pages are turning…and as you say my friend…”the new chapter” is beginning.

    Can’t wait to hold that fruit in my hand and remember the morning I read this post.

    Blessings, Dea

  8. I absolutely love your writing. It speaks volumes to my heart. And for that I am grateful. You have already taken a leap of faith by being authentic and transparent. God has given you the dream and you have been obedient. He is responsible for the manifestation. He deposits and fulfills dreams. He did for Joseph and He will do it for you. Blessings to you on your journey, Shelly.

    1. Joan, my humble thanks for you kindness in these words. And I hide your words in my heart today – He is responsible for the manifestation – and pray to remember them in those moments of doubt.

  9. Squeal!! Which seems like a train whistle in the midst of your quiet word beauty. But I’m so excited that you’re “pregnant.”

    And this: Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?

    Oh how that ministers to me!

  10. You always leave me breathless. Oh to be pregnant with promise, to not delve into the sea of doubt, to not let fear overpower the mighty faith that rises up within us. To let our spirits, our hearts, our words bloom in His Hands, to give Him the precious responsibility of the growing.

  11. Shelly,

    i was in the middle of reading this when my household went awry, and i am just now coming back to read. i am sorry that you had to comment on mine first. i love this best:

    “Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?
    A book of invisible pages revealed to the muse in whispers by the author, at the turn of each day.”

    –beautiful…oh the entire thing was pure beauty, so quiet, such gorgeous prose, and this is really a great feat, because it is so hard to put these fearful, chock-full-of-emotion thoughts into one still, breathless moment. i loved the daffodils–who doesn’t love yellow flowers in January–but i really loved the 2nd one–wild things of beauty.

    i’m with you in spirit and heart on this–i believe you can do it! you have your own private cheering section here–i know you will make it through and soar! and Shelly? i am *so* glad that the outcome is HIS job–that settles my spirit–i needed that. *thank you*

    blessings!

  12. That last point you made was what came to my mind when I read your story today. That epiphany came through my husband and he didn’t even know that I was writing about the parable of the seed and the sower at the time. God just blows me away daily. Sure you get that. Thanks Nacole, and I am not keeping tabs on who went where first. Just glad to connect with you.

  13. First, I share with you that feeling of watching your just-turned-sixteen-year-old daughter drive away.

    Second, I am so happy to support your in your book-writing journey. I love your words, the way you write. And you’re right too. Writing is so much like expecting new life.

    1. Denise, I thought about you when I wrote this. Knew you have one that just turned sixteen too. Thank you for your support. I think after my admission and all the comments, I must be accountable now. Which is a good thing!

  14. Oh! Wow! This just speaks to me on SO many levels…

    We are getting into foster care, and a scary opportunity of adopting a teenager with her baby has been presented to us. I don’t feel capable, and yet your words give me hope. We don’t know if this is the plan that the Lord has for us yet but thank you for the courage to not make a decision based on fear.

    Also with the whole writing thing…I know God is birthing those long latent dreams in my heart yet again…

    Your words INSPIRE!

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