What failure taught me about dreaming

When James Gandolfini died, I read his words on why Tony Soprano appealed to viewers:

You got to see what he was trying to do, what he was trying to fix, and what he was trying to become.

Every one of us is trying to do those same things. That’s your dream.

One day in Home Depot I heard Bruce Springsteen’s ’Working On A Dream’ for the first time. An appropriate place to hear a song about building something. I could relate and maybe you can too.

So your body doesn’t climb a ladder and swing a hammer with the rain pourin’ down? But your soul does, as you try to do, fix, and become.

Don’t do what I did

Seventeen years ago I had a dream about a radio show. I dreamed and talked and planned. Never happened. It died a long, quiet, uneventful death. Why? I think because it was always in the future. It was all “if” and “when.”

Today I feel guilty and foolish. I said I believed the dream, but I didn’t do much but think and plan. Occasionally I got all jived and worked at it for a few days. I prayed too, but as they say, you have to put feet to your prayers. Mostly I waited.

My soul wasn’t engaged in any ladder climbing or hammer swinging.

Yes, stretch for the future

Our family has a dream of a small property used for hope, encouragement, and perspective. A place where heaven, earth, and everyday living come together. It’s vague and incomplete, but each of us sees some specific piece. We’ve all talked about this for several years.

Our daughter the Nester (oh wait I can call her by her real name now) and her husband are ready. They’re looking for a home for their family and for their dream. The place will belong to them but also might be suitable for some of what we’re all dreaming.

They found a piece of property with a house. They’re in the middle of appraisal and inspection hurdles now. No one knows how it will turn out.

Don’t just embrace your dream – let it embrace you

Once a week or so I drive to that property. The owners have moved, but I want to be respectful so I  sit in the car at the end of the gravel drive. I pray that in the future everyone who drives up that drive would find great encouragement at the other end and that they would take it with them when they leave.

One day I get bold and drive up the driveway onto the property. I plan to walk around the whole thing praying. I’m there about ten minutes when I turn around and see the owner’s truck parked next to my car. He’s just arrived and he’s walking out the back door of the house into the yard.

This is awkward. I’ve met him, but I’m not the one purchasing his property and I haven’t called or asked or knocked on the door. I’m just wandering around in his yard.

Be lighthearted and honest and apologize, right? Let’s call him Chris.

“Hey Chris, I’m Gary. We met a couple weeks ago. My daughter and son-in-law are the ones who want to purchase your property. I guess I’m trespassing but I wanted to come up here to pray.”

“Well that’s always a good thing.”

Honor your dream and treat is as a NOW thing

We make small talk. I ask how he’s doing since I know family issues are involved in selling the property. He shares how tough it is. I mention that I’m sure he and his wife had hopes and dreams for this place. We talk about that a bit and somehow the conversation moves to his desire to write books. That starts it.

Over the next fifteen minutes I do all I can to encourage this guy not to ignore that desire inside him and that he can do it. I SO want him to not just let his dream fizzle out. At the end I ask him if I can pray for him. He takes off his ball cap. Part of what I pray is that the God who created heaven and earth would help Chris and take pleasure in what he creates.

The next day it hits me: I did a fifteen minute impromptu version of my Scary Hope message with the owner of the property my daughter and her husband want to buy. My part of our family dream is to do things like that on the land we’ve talked about. And I just did it. But the property isn’t in our family!

For a moment, my part of the dream was already real. Even though the dream hasn’t happened yet.

What would you do if your dream came true? Do that now

The Nester has a dream of a gathering place for swap meets, and to learn crafts, and to connect with women and be encouraged about the purpose of our homes. She doesn’t have the place yet but she’s already doing all that stuff at her house or at whatever space she can find.

Our other daughter (daughters rock!) Emily and her husband John have a dream of contributing to the spiritual conversation in their community. After a year or so of prayer and planning, John just quit his job to engage their dream, even though it has not come true yet.

The Declaration of Independence announced a dream that had been decided in the hearts of the founding fathers months and years before. They were already living like it was true, even though the British could still win and defeat the dream.

Faith sees the future in the present. Honoring your dreams now with your actions is part of faith.

What’s your dream? How can you honor it now, by faith? 

About the Author


Gary Morland helps you feel better about your most challenging family relationships, and helps you actually improve those relationships - all by adopting simple attitudes, perspectives, expectations, and actions (the same ones that changed him and his family).


  1. Nancy

    I didn’t know the Nester was your daughter. :) My son is the one in our family who has the dreams and immediately puts feet to them. Always to honor God. We are so thankful for that. He and his family have just bought an RV and are in the process of selling all they own so they can travel and minister. He never wavers when he hears Gods directions for his life. I want to be like that. I also want to sell all we have and travel. My motives aren’t as noble as his but it’s a dream. Husband is almost all the way on board. I have been dreaming this for a couple of years. I believe it will happen. I am not giving up on this one. I got encouragement from this post and thank you for it.

    • Totally inspiring Nancy. Sometimes families have dreams that are similar, don’t they? Thanks for that

      • Mindy

        What do you do when your dream does have something to do with whether or not someone else will obey God’s call? I have done all I can see to do. It takes a lot of heart to believe in a dream, when you’re waiting on somebody else to see it too.

        • My wife wasn’t on board with something I had in mind one time. So I waited (I think a couple of years), and prayed, and did what I could with what I had. Eventually she was more on board than me and was pushing me to get going more. Sometimes you can be surprised. Thanks Mindy.

  2. This is beautiful, Gary! Really inspiring and exactly what I’ve been thinking/praying about lately.

    For years I’ve wanted to be a writer but have always thrown into the safety of “one day”. The unknown future. The thing about dreams is that they can be scary and full of questions like “what if I don’t have what it takes.”

    When the day comes that someone actually pays me for my words I know that I’m going to throw a party. Until then I can write. I can hone my skill and draw closer in my relationship with God.

    Thanks for this post. Truly inspiring.

    • I’m with all of that David. Thx

    • You’re comment about “thrown into the safety of “one day”” really speaks to me. I will think and speak differently about my dreams – starting today, not one day. – Thanks David.

    • Aly

      Throw the party now, because being paid is not the definition of success. Real victory is in the doing, not in everyone else finding monetary worth in it.

      My guess is you’re a writer already. You just won’t let yourself celebrate it.

      And you may assume I need to take my own advice…

  3. Great example of putting faith and dreams into action. Reminds me of the scripture to “always be ready to give a testimony.” Often, I find myself praying for something to occur in the future when I should also be taking action. Thanks for a great reminder, Gary!

    • Appreciate it Nick. My default can easily be ‘think and pray, don’t act.’ Gracias

  4. Cindy

    Thanks Gary, I also have a similar dream and it has been years of doing the same thing, talking about it, planning, but few foot steps forward. Your words are encouragement and I still see this plan as something that the Lord has in store for the future. This helps me be ready to work the plan whenever doors open up before me. Isn’t it awesome when God gives us a glimpse of His big dream for us and lets us see fulfillment in ways that we weren’t expecting, like when you got to encourage “Chris.” Thanks again.

  5. Pam Cason

    Wow, Gary. I’m chewing on this one. How many times do I sit and ponder about my dream, but don’t necessarily take steps toward it? A lot, I tell you. Honestly, it’s a bit scary to take those steps. But maybe I am, sort of. I do write on a blog and write in my journal and scribble post ideas here and there. But when I think about taking it further . . . that’s the scary part. This dream to write to encourage others on their life journeys is way bigger than me. And because it feels way more than I can do, I wonder if I can do it. I know, I know. I can’t but HE can. I get all of that but the question still remains. What if I fail? Maybe the question to ask is what if I don’t? Thanks for making me think today, Gary.

    • Thanks for thinking and sharing out loud Pam – that’s how we know we’re not alone :)

  6. Robyn

    Thank you for this great and timely post! This is something I can actually do today. Thank you again!

  7. It’s so great when God provides a “snapshot” of the future. It really helps bring the dream closer knowing that He is all over it.

  8. lyricpdx

    I am realizing that God, Himself, has dreams for us, and His dreams are for the furtherance of His will–to bring glory to Himself and to build His kingdom here on earth, while calling us into intimacy with Him. What could be better than to partner with Him in these things? What an incredible honor! He had a dream for Gideon and called him “mighty warrior.” He saw Gideon, a simple farmer, in a way that Gideon did not see himself. The Lord told Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands” before He had even done so. All Joshua saw was a big, walled city. I pray that timid, much-afraid little me will step out in faith and trust because that is when I truly feel alive, doing that free fall thing, and my Father is always there to catch me. Ours is already the victory.

    • Well I need to hear that! Muchas gracias

      • M

        Love it! Amen & amen…beautifully put!!! Back 2 reality from my vacation…lol;) Blessings & <3

    • Peggy

      Wow …. ALL the comments to this blog are inspiring and helpful, but to sit with this one is challenging. I KNOW that my situation is to further His Kingdom and bring greater intimacy with Him, but boy howdy, when sitting in the trenches with the bullets flying overhead those realities seem so distant. It’s about survival, NOT getting depressed, FEELING useful, purposeful and victorious. It is about our “thoughts.” So, today, I purpose my thoughts to that of the victor … the Gideon …. the Joshua ….. And thanks for the reminder.

  9. Robin in New Jersey

    Hey Gary! I’ve missed your writing. Hope everything is ok. When can we expect you back? :)

  10. Monica

    I just found your blog yesterday (thank you The Nester!) and am floored by how God is speaking through you! What moved me the most are your words, “What would you do if your dream came true? Do that now.” I cried because suddenly I knew what possibility felt like. It is powerful, beautiful and breathtaking.

    My God bless you and your family as you continue to share your gifts, lessons and dreams.


    P.S. I, too want to do what your daughters are doing. How cool!

  11. Hi Gary! What a pleasant surprise to find you! I follow Emily’s blog and fell in love with her post about this special property to share hope, encouragement and perspective. As I was reading, I thought what a cool family! I would love to hang out with them. Then I clicked on the the link she shared for your post and of course it is the awesome Gary Morland from New Life. And to think I’ve already had the opportunity to hang out with you on my front porch (filming miracle interview). It was a Godwink 😉 Anyway, I love your family and THANK YOU for all that each one of you do to build the Kingdom of God. I hope to see you at the barn :) Many Blessings to all of you. http://www.lindakuhar.com

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