Keeping the dream alive - by Helen Murray

I had no idea how tired I was until I got to Scargill this year.

It’s a short drive to Scargill from Skipton, which looks a lovely town, but I pass by the inviting cafes and intriguing independent shops because I know that real treasure is just around the bend. And the other bends. And over the hills, and across the valley.

Scargill is a place to breathe. I think I stopped breathing a while ago; maybe as long as two years. I’ve become busier and busier; aware that my jokes about living on a hamster-wheel are no longer funny, but the extent of my suffocation was only evident this weekend.

I have dreams that have been shelved, because there’s just no room for them.

I’ve told myself that I’ve put them aside just for now, that life won’t always be so frantic, that there are seasons for everything, and this season is one of constant motion, clock-watching, going, doing, coming back. That might just be it.  Around that distant bend might be a time when there are fewer demands on me, physically and emotionally.

But where is the bend?  Will I ever get there?  Isn’t life for living right now?

I arrived at beautiful Scargill and I lifted my eyes to the majestic Yorkshire hills and slowly, gradually, my Help came. In chapel I heard the words, ‘Someone here might feel as if they’re in a little prison,’ and my eyes filled with tears.

How can a prison be made of good things, precious things?  I am blessed in so many ways. A loving husband, healthy, energetic children, house, car, the means of making a living.   As I spent time with friends talking and thinking about our life as writers, and wandered in the gardens, gazing at the view, God began to whisper to me.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any writing. I’ve given up all but one of the writing slots that used to be a joy, and have seriously contemplated finishing with that one too.  As for my novel – well, that moved to a back burner a while ago and slowly the light underneath it went out. 

At Scargill this year those two days away gave me the space to realise that without the main thing, even the good things start to strangle you.

The main thing for me is space. I need to recharge, and regularly. Physical space, alone, uninterrupted. This is essential for head-space, which is necessary for me. It’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. I hadn’t realized. Without it I’m exhausted and dulled. I can’t relax. I can’t cope with things, and the physical and emotional consequences spill over into my spiritual life as well. I’ve struggled to worship and I’ve struggled to write.

Writing is part of me. It’s a gift from God and it’s how I process life.

My ‘One Word’* this year is ‘Alive’, ironically. I've been feeling anything but. I mentioned this in a tearful conversation with a wise lady while I was away who smiled reassuringly and said, ‘Oh well, it’s only the summer!’

I need to turn this ship around.

It’s going to take time. By starting now I hope to avoid the iceberg that surely waits if I continue on this course. I need space to write, even if it cannot be the way it was. Writing gives me back the life the hamster wheel sucks from me. I need to keep my dream alive, because God himself sowed that seed, and it needs water and light. I’m starting with this blog post.

I think many dreams die because life tramples all over them. I don’t yet have a clear rescue plan, but I know that if God has brought me this far, He’ll take me a bit further. He’s breathing Life into me once again, and I need to do the same with my dreams. It feels like a huge mountain, and in the short time since Scargill there've already been setbacks that threaten to derail my new and fragile determination. 

So I'm holding onto my little bit of faith and the whisper from God that I heard in the hills of Yorkshire.

 I’m looking forward to being fully alive. After all, it’s only the summer.

“…the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.’   Psalm 18:18

Amen to that.

*‘My One Word: Change your life with just a word’  by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen, Zondervan 2012

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a researcher, church worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently supposed to be working on her first novel. Or at least working on something. 

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims, breeds Aloe Vera plants and collects ceramic penguins.

Helen has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress, or lack thereof. It's been a while since there was anything to report, but she hasn't given up.

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray
Twitter: @helenmurray01


  1. So true Helen.... Thanks for reminding me to get off the hamster wheel and keep the main the main thing. And for the reassurance that it is the Master Craftsman Himself who calls is to write. z

    1. Thank you, Mandy. If only the hamster wheel would stop long enough for me to get off.... :-)

  2. Helen, your words resonate strongly with how I used to be. It's hard to explain when the things that suffocate and strangle you are good things, things you treasure, blessings for which you are thankful.I too had children,elderly parents, pets and lots of commitments. The thing is, as you rightly say, to keep your dream alive till things get better (and they do.) I don't know how you will do it, but write you must! It is who you are, just as much as being a parent/wife/daughter/friend is who you are.

    1. Thank you for understanding! Can't tell you how much that means, really.
      Thank you. x

  3. Thanks Helen,
    Your honest reflections have always been an inspiration to me. My heart gives a little jump whenever I see "Are we nearly there yet" in my inbox. But it is never easy. Blessings on this new adventure with Jesus,

    1. Ian, thank you so much. Your lovely encouragement has made my day. Thank you.


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