A shriveled up section fell off my kitchen Christmas cactus this past winter. It looked dead. Undaunted, my first-grade son scooped up the broken section, stuck it in a jelly jar of water and set it in a window.

There it sat – week after week after week – looking sad and hopeless. My son watered it, but I didn’t see any visible change. Last week I was about to throw it away. But when I picked up the jar, I spotted two red nubs on the tip of a fat leaf. When I looked closer, I saw that this plant – which looked lifeless – had grown roots! Thin white ventricles spread across the bottom of the glass, reaching for the water. As soon as I showed my delighted son, he filled the jar with soil and set it back in the window to grow.

That same week, a delivery truck backed down my muddy driveway. Expecting a package for one of my children, I opened the door and stepped outside as the driver carried two boxes toward the house. Then I saw the words printed on the sides, “Hendrickson” – the name of my publisher.

“School books?” The driver set the boxes on my front step.

“No.” I caught my breath. “You are delivering a dream.”

After a decade of writing and re-writing, Redeeming Ruth, the memoir about my family’s adoption of an abandoned baby from Uganda was here! So many times over the past years, my words seemed dead and broken. Often I sat in front of my computer to write, feeling sad and hopeless. I’d about given up when, last May, a Massachusetts publisher offered me a contract.

Unknown to me in that dark, lonely season, my words were growing roots. Although I couldn’t see any visible change, new life was working its way through all my brokenness to form a bud. Now, here it was, on my doorstep!

“So let us not get tired of doing what is good,” the apostle Paul writes in Galatians 6:9 (NLT). “At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Often we are most tempted to quit right before a victory. Whether praying for a struggling child, working to overcome addiction or building a better life, in the dark, dormant seasons it is easy to believe that our hopes and dreams and efforts are dead. But in the difficult, hidden places new life is working to break through. We simply have to keep watering our dreams – through perseverance and prayer – while waiting for the bud to appear.

Last Sunday, my family joyfully brought our book to church and dedicated it to the Lord. Together we prayed that this small bud would blossom and bear much fruit. We’ve watered it as long as we could. Now it is His to establish.

What dreams are you waiting for God to fulfill?

Meadow Rue Merrill writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Her memoir, Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, releases May 1.