Author * Dream Chaser

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That’s me. I’m an author. I’m a dream chaser. There are some nay-sayers out there that wonder about all this “dream” talk. I get it.

I really do.

But let’s look at this another way. What if your dream was better defined as that thing that makes you, you? What if your dreams are perfect visions of what you were made to do and be?

I believe our “dreams” are part of our calling, or that mark we’re meant to leave on our world. Maybe our world is within the walls of our own home? Maybe it’s something we have to contribute that could literally change our world or make a positive impact on society in a major way? Maybe it’s the way we are called to support others, from behind the scenes?

I don’t know what your dream is or what that calling is. But I do know that you are here for a reason and have something that only you can bring to the world.

So what is it for you? What dream should you be chasing? What dream have you let lie dormant for far too long?

I’ve been chasing dreams for a long time. In fact, I recently realized that my dream chasing goes much further back than the most obvious things I think of {foster care & writing} when I think about chasing dreams.

One thing I’ve learned, as I’ve chased hard, is that the your reasons to quit can sometimes be greater than your reasons to keep pushing. This is a fact. But you’ve got to keep pushing & fighting your way through. Opposition to the dream doesn’t indicate a darn thing.

People of faith are often uncomfortable with this, believing that “closed doors” indicate that it’s time to end the pursuit of . . . whatever it is.

But this is faulty thinking. Maybe it’s our “first-world” issues in America that make us give up so easily – as if everything should be handed to us on a golden platter.

What I know? Sometimes the most beautiful gifts in my life have come after the toughest climb. Sometimes opposition actually means you’re in exactly the right place. Some of you are there right now.

In a way, I’m kind of there too. There’s a lot of reasons I can’t or shouldn’t. But I’m going for it anyway.

I don’t know what your dream is, but I’m here cheering you on. I’m cheering you on, while I chase mine.

Tell me about your dreams {if you feel a need to “speak” this dream aloud}.

 

 

 

Tell the Story

elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, maya angelou, writer

Tell the story.

Tell your story.

For far too long I’ve known it was time to tell my story.

There’s a story to share, because by God’s grace, I am not where I was. There’s a story to tell because He has redeemed and restored me.

I need to share my story. But beyond that, I’m called to do so. I’ve resisted for one reason or another. But most of the reasons ultimately come back to living my life for the betterment of an organization, versus my larger purpose on this earth.

In recent months, the why I’m here on this earth has crystallized and yet even still, I’m working my way through the details. But I do know that I need to tell my story.

Years ago I heard Anne Marie Miller (aka Anne Jackson) speak at a church. She talked about how there may be times in our lives where we’re called to give the gift of going first.

What does that mean? It means that we might need to tell our own story so others know there is hope, healing, freedom, etc. We may need to go first so they feel free to seek help, healing, and take a chance on hope.

I knew before that evening in Corona, California, that I needed to go first. Listening to Anne confirmed it.

And then life happened. I made choice after choice after choice that put me at odds with that calling. I put everything in front of my faith and the calling on my life.

The organization that deposits a paycheck in my checking account every two weeks, won. What I was being called to do by the God that chases me down, did not.

But in recent times, I’ve grown more and more certain that God is asking me to leave this old way of life, behind.

I’ve become more certain that telling my story is what He’s asking of me.

And yet, I’ve still held back.

After some of the hardest weeks and months of my life in 2016-2017, in which I lived in fear, some of the worst anxiety I’ve ever experienced, and my heart was broken (so very badly), I knew something had to change. And I knew I had to tell my story.

But I’ve still held back, ya’ll. I have such a hard head. Tell me I’m not the only one…

Fast forward to tonight. Our worship team at church somehow picked the exact songs I needed tonight. The words, as I sang them, were prayers, commitments, and reminders of the God that chases me down and is owed all of my life – every part of it – to include my story.

I didn’t notice our worship pastor’s shirt until the service was almost over and we were singing the last song (Do It Again).

It has been a favorite worship song for a while. But as the song started, I saw George’s shirt. White letters on black, “Tell the story” it said.

I smiled big.

You may think it’s a coincidence. You may not think it’s a sign. You may deny that there’s a message there for me or anyone else. But I know, like I know today is Saturday, that God could (and did) use a black t-shirt to slap me upside the face.

Do you know how many times this week I’ve begun this post? Not about a song or t-shirt but about “telling the story?” I’ve started this countless times but stopped myself every time.

So no. It’s not a coincidence.

Tell the story.

In my heart of hearts, I think we all know what our calling in life is. I think you know, yours. I know mine. I may not always know what that looks like or how the pieces will come together, but I know, that I know, that I know.

My friends – I’ve got some writing to do. Non-fiction…a devotional, a book about how the trauma of my childhood has impacted my entire life (but isn’t the end of the story because of God’s grace). I may have some other stuff to write, too.

Tell the story.

I’m going to tell the story.

 

Hold Fast to Your Dreams

chasing hope, elaina avalos, fiction, novel, hold fast to your dreams

A year ago today, I posted this photo on Instagram & Facebook. I had finally finished editing my novel, Chasing Hope. This novel, set in beautiful Beaufort, NC, had taken me far too long to write. Over the years, as I grew and changed, the novel did too. In many ways I’m thankful for that.

However, there is one primary way I would change things if I could. It is this . . .

I would not have let anything stop me from writing every day (or starting the foster care/adoption process sooner). I take on too much. I put things off in the name of my job. It was always, “Later. I’ll get to it later,” with me. I am sensitive – sometimes too sensitive. The way people treat me deeply impacts me. I take those burdens home.

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Or, I am burdened by other’s hurt, trials, etc. On one hand, this is not a bad thing. I don’t want to change who I am. However, I didn’t do such a great job separating out my own life from my career or the organization that employed me.

When you’re weighed down by the extras, it tends to hold you back from what it is you actually want to be doing. At least that’s true of me. I’m sure there are many others out there like me, however. Especially those of you that are sensitive, artists, or just generally don’t believe in yourself.

Even after publishing Chasing Hope (read an excerpt by clicking the link) last summer, I have done what I did for so many years – I put off writing the second book and stopped working on promotion of the first one.

There is an extra person in my house that impacts when I can write. But that’s really not the biggest impediment to me holding fast to and pursuing my dreams.

It’s the way I let my day job impact my personal life. Here’s the thing. I love what I do. I love the people that I have been working with since 2010. I truly do. I wouldn’t trade these 8 years.

What was so badly needed, was for me to learn sooner, how to leave work at work. The truth is, after all this time, the Marine Corps has made major changes to the program I love. And though I won’t lose my job (this time), in an instant, they’ll part ways with me, without a second thought.

chasing hope, elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, fiction, novel, beaufort nc, pamlico county nc

A wise man, who knows this organization so well, once told me that it will do what is best for itself. No matter what. So . . . I probably should just go ahead and do what’s best for me and be who God has called me to be, right? Why silence, hide, or put other things first?

I do not regret for one second the two units I have invested so much of my heart in. Not even for a second. What I do regret is that I forgot to do that at home. That was my choice. No one else’s.

In the last two weeks, I’ve come to face some hard truths about myself and the organization I love. I’ve come to realize how patient God is with me as I put off the me He created me to be.

elaina avalos, chasing hope by elaina avalos, maya angelou, writer

Waking up this morning to that post was a reminder of what I want so badly for my life. In the book “Draw the Circle,” Mark Batterson talks about “circling” people, situations, dreams, etc., in prayer. Essentially that just means pray without giving up. I have a 3×5 card of the main things I want to circle in prayer.

On that card is my dream to write full time. Now that I have a little guy living in my house, this has grown in importance. Every time I pick him up from childcare and I’m reminded of what I wanted to be true of my life, I know that I need to throw everything I have at being home full time with him and whomever else joins our little family.

This is the dream. It may not be your dream, but it has always been mine.

For those of you sitting on your dreams, don’t do it any longer. Maybe that dream is your side hustle right now. Maybe you can’t begin to imagine how you’ll make it all come together. I understand.

You know what they say? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Here’s the thing, I can pray until I’m blue in the face. But if I’m not out there doing my part, how exactly do I think doors are going to open for me and my family? If I’m not hustling, how exactly do I expect this dream to happen?

So, my friends . . . hold fast to your dreams. If you’re a pray-er, pray.

But get to work.

I’ll get to work with you.

What dream of yours has been languishing, as you put other things first? Care to share? Maybe it’s time to share and speak that dream out loud?

Advice from Oprah on Trying & Failure

Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, dreams, leap of faith, trying, failure

A few years ago, I ran into the image below on Pinterest. I immediately added it as a profile photo on Facebook. I could not even help myself. It’s adorable but also a reminder for us dreamer types. To keep pressing forward, we have to believe in our abilities and in the rightness of the journey (see what I did there), in the first place.

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I jumped into the fire in June, by becoming an indie author. My first novel is called Chasing HopeI’m not sure I was ready. But knowing how I am, I’m so glad I jumped when I did. I’m not sure time would have better prepared me. It’s far more likely that I would have found a multitude of reasons why I shouldn’t publish my novel.

Now that I’m a month into this process, I am not selling as many books as I would like. There’s a temptation to let that discourage me. I certainly felt that a few times this weekend. But this is just a distraction from the main point . . .

I took a leap of faith. Now is not exactly the time to stop believing.

Duh.

Like with anything, when you take a big risk, or at least what feels like a big risk, you hope to see some reward. That’s a no-brainer.

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it. – Oprah Winfrey

But some of our reward comes from choosing to step out in faith in the first place and then not giving up. No, really. If you’re not trying, of course you’re not failing. If you’re not trying, you’re never going to accomplish those big dreams of yours.

But taking those steps of faith, whatever they are, are part of the joy of the process. It’s thrilling (really) to do something you’ve dreamed about for decades. It’s actually thrilling.

The thing is, I might fail at this.

There are moments that I care about that. But most of the time, I’m just so excited that I’ve become more focused on finding my way to success. Keep in mind that whatever it is that you’re aiming for, jumping into the fire is not just your first step to success.

It’s actually your first reward along the way, too. Not everyone takes these leaps of faith. Many like to talk, dream, or think about it and yet, they remain fixed and focused on the potential for failure. Their focus on the potential for failure keeps them mired in the same spot.

But, I can tell you that the joy (mixed with a little fear and trembling) that comes from stepping right smack dab into a dream, is the best feeling ever. It has taken me long enough. I hope you will jump in, too.

Feel like jumping into the fire, with me? What’s your big dream?