Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

I will never be hired as a motivational speaker. I am far too much of a realist. I was thinking about this personality trait of mine the other day when a friend posted a link to an article about why you should never give up on your dreams. It featured rejection letters received by people who went on to become famous and well respected in their respective fields. The concluding paragraph of the piece was about how we should never give up on our dreams and how rejection should serve as inspiration to keep going until we make it. This person was not speaking my language.

All I could think about were the thousands of people who have received rejection letters that instead of serving as inspiration to keep going, should have been a wake-up call that they were in the wrong field. For every Jewel who slept in her car until she made it big as a singer, there are a thousand unknowns who have slept in their car until they realized they weren’t quite talented enough or weren’t making the right connections to hit it big.

All photos by Renae Morehead

I realized how jaded I am as I was looking for a cute decorative wallhanging for our new baby’s nursery. I will never be the mom who puts up the sign that says, “Reach for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” What does that even mean? I think I’m going to commission my own more realistic art piece to hang over the baby’s crib that will say something like, “Sometimes the safe choice is the wise choice” or “Settling is underrated” or “Dreams are a pathway to disappointment” or “Failure is life’s way of telling you to rethink your life choices.” You know, something really poetic like that.

I will not be the parent who tells her children to follow their heart or believe in their dreams or that they can be whatever they want to be. When my child is receiving her Nobel Prize she will say, “And I did it all in spite of the fact that my mom thought I should probably not risk so much and kept asking if I wouldn’t be happier in some other field.” When my son becomes president he will likely include in his inaugural address the phrase, “See, Mom? I told you I could do it.” and I’ll blow him a kiss from the balcony.

I know my kids are talented and have much potential and I have no desire to downplay that in their lives. I want to be their cheerleader and supportive of what they want to pursue. It’s not that I think my kids aren’t capable of achieving great things, it’s just that I have seen the power of letting go of dreams in my own life. And I think it’s kind of an important step on the road to maturity and adulthood. The path you imagine is the only way to happiness and fulfillment may not be the path God wants to lead you on. You don’t have to agree with me, but let me explain.


I was a child who grew up in a musical family. My parents were both trained musicians who had made careers out of their gifts. My four siblings and I grew up with music as our constant companion and took lessons in various instruments and also had the natural ability to sing. My younger sister and I at just a few years old were singing duets in front of our large church. In harmony. It was adorable, but also came with a lot of pressure to perform.

Over the years I invested hours in practicing my violin, auditioning for select orchestras and choirs and performing wherever I could get the chance. I loved music and the only future I could imagine for myself involved following my dreams likely to Broadway or Nashville or to a fancy music school.

But in the back of my mind, I hated this dream, too. I felt this obligation to Music. I felt this pressure to BE something or somebody and the only way I knew how to do it was through music. I felt that if I didn’t use this talent to make something of my life, then I had failed.

And if that’s true, then I’ve failed pretty spectacularly.

As I’ve previously mentioned, we are in the process of moving. Which means I have been running across remnants of my former life that were packed away for years. Boxes full of sheet music and folders full of notes from my violin teacher and pages with my dialogue highlighted from “The Music Man” and “Oklahoma” and a tuning fork. While my violin hasn’t been forgotten, it has definitely been neglected. Just going through this stuff feels like opening up a Pandora’s box of guilt and regret for the road not taken and the dreams not pursued. And I refuse to do it anymore.

Why didn’t I follow those dreams? I’m sure part of it was my natural fear of failure. My lack of discipline when it came to the hours of practice time I knew I’d need to invest to make it a career. And probably my natural tendencies towards realism kept me from risking it all. But the reality is that by letting go of that dream, I have found a life that is beautiful. And much better suited to the person God made me to be.


I love my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I have seen God’s hand in it all the way. When I stopped feeling this internal pressure to make something of myself, that’s when I could allow God to make something of me. It was freeing to realize that while I had musical talent, it wasn’t what motivated me. My passion was for children, for advocacy, for fighting the system and making change and making dinners and making a safe and stable home for kids who needed it. Devoting my life to that just happened to squeeze out some of the other dreams I had been holding on to.


. . . To finish reading, join me over at A Musing Maralee. . . 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at

The Proverbs 31 Woman for Teens

In: Faith, Teen, Tween
Teen girl smiling outside

A girl with a noble character is hard to find. Her family can trust her. She sees things to be done and does them without being told. She has a good attitude when asked to do something. She makes wise decisions about her friends. She tries to put others first even when she doesn’t want to. She stands up for herself and the underdog who is being bullied. RELATED: A Prayer For Daughters She tells the truth—even if she is going to get in trouble. She is strong physically and not lazy. She is a problem solver in all situations. She...

Keep Reading

Some Mothers Never Get Their Rainbow Baby

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands sitting on bed

Not everyone gets a rainbow baby—that’s a truth not many of us talk about. There are many women who long to have a rainbow baby but because of health or age, they never get one. We never talk about it. We don’t want to bring rain on someone’s otherwise happy day. “Oh, I’m so excited for you. Congratulations on your rainbow baby.” Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for mine. The clock is ticking and there is no sign of a rainbow baby. My body is wearing down and the chances of getting pregnant dwindle. I don’t mean to sound bitter. I’m...

Keep Reading

God Had Different Plans

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of family swinging child between two parents

As I sip my twice-reheated coffee holding one baby and watching another run laps around the messy living room, I catch bits and pieces of the Good Morning America news broadcast. My mind drifts off for a second to the dreams I once had of being the one on the screen. Live from New York City with hair and makeup fixed before 6 a.m. I really believed that would be me. I just knew I’d be the one telling the mama with unwashed hair and tired eyes about the world events that happened overnight while she rocked babies and pumped milk....

Keep Reading

This Will Not Last Forever

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman looking at sunset

“This will not last forever,” I wrote those words on the unfinished walls above my daughter’s changing table. For some reason, it got very tiring to change her diapers. Nearly three years later, the words are still there though the changing table no longer is under them. While my house is still unfinished so I occasionally see those words, that stage of changing diapers for her has moved on. She did grow up, and I got a break. Now I do it for her baby brother. I have been reminding myself of the seasons of life again. Everything comes and...

Keep Reading

God Calls Me Flawless

In: Faith, Living
Note hanging on door, color photo

When I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. I tend to focus on every imperfection, every flaw. As I age, more wrinkles naturally appear. And I’ve never been high maintenance, so the gray hairs are becoming more frequent, too. Growing up a lot of negative words were spoken about me: my body, my weight, my hair, my build. Words I’ve somehow carried my whole life. The people who proclaimed them as my truth don’t even remember what they said, I’m sure. But that’s the power of negative words. Sticks and stones may break our bones,...

Keep Reading

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading