When I was a little girl, my sister Elizabeth and I made elaborate scrapbooks that we each titled our “Dream Future.” We poured over the Sears and J.C. Penny Christmas catalogs, shopping not for toys and dolls but for the likeness of our future husbands and children. We would each find our “dream guy” modeling crew cut sweaters or long underwear and cut out his picture with child-safe scissors. Using Elmer’s Glue we would affix men we named “Kevin” or “Kyle” to white printer paper. We would cut and paste our ideal children from the baby and toddler clothing pages and then their clothes, bassinets and toys alongside them. How old were we then? Eight, nine years old? Little girls with big dreams, eager to grow into wives and mothers.
I believe now, that in those early years, God looked down on my pages saturated with glue and hope. I see Him now, where I could not then, leaning over the shoulder of a curly-haired nine year-old whispering truth:
“ No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what I have prepared for those who love Me.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Flash forward twenty years and I am walking with my husband and toddler in our small downtown. It is a sticky summer evening cooled by heaping scoops of lemon sorbet. Our second baby wiggles inside me and my husband’s strong hand falls reassuringly to the small of my back. I am not thinking about a nine-year old’s dreams and I am momentarily blind to the fact that I am living out my dream, perfected for His holy purpose.
We walk along a crosswalk and two teenage girls with perfect bodies and tanned legs pass us, heading in the opposite direction. I look down at my maternity dress and worn flip flops. I am sweaty in the heat and suddenly feeling my age like a weight. My mind wanders and I remember walking these same sidewalks, 15 years and 20 pounds ago. I imagine what it would be like to be one of those girls for an evening, stylish shorts and strappy sandals with perfectly pedicured feet. No diapers or dishes or bedtime tears. No one needing me in the dark of night.
It isn’t until that evening when the house is quiet and everyone is in bed that I think about the “Dream Future” scrapbook for the first time in years. In the darkness I hear the hum of our bedroom fan and my mind flashes ahead, this time sixty years into the future. I am a ninety-year old woman, hands riddled with arthritis, leafing through photos and memories with tear-filled eyes. What will I ache for when my present has faded into distant memory? A slim body before it nurtured a new life into being? Carefree days before the demands on my time and attention seemed to exceed my ability to provide?
No, I believe I will ache for the same things at age ninety that I ached for at age nine: this ministry of motherhood and the privilege of being my husband’s best friend and helpmeet.
But don’t we all, as mothers and wives, need the reminder when we are in the trenches every day? A reminder that in all the hard work and sacrifice, we are maybe, just maybe, living out our dream, perfected for His holy purpose?
If I still myself to listen to His voice, what is He whispering to me today, in the same manner he whispered truth to me as a nine-year old girl?
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
“And we know that in all things (even crayons on the sofa and syrup on the floor) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
To all of my readers, here is to a new week of living the dream, whatever He has called you to. May we still ourselves to hear His whispers of purpose and encouragement.
It truly is the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6
Happily reflecting on the gift of motherhood this week and linking this post with Ann at A Holy Experience.
Thanks for the encouragement as this new week starts. I didn’t have a scrapbook as a child, but I did have the JCP catalog in the safety of my closet hideaway and dreamed of what my future would hold. God’s plan is ever-so-much better!
Beautifully said my friend. 🙂 I love that you and your sister had scrapbooks like that…what a treasure. My life so far as a mother has been nothing like I thought it would be, and everything I subconsciously wanted it to be. God is very good. 🙂
A beautiful entry as always. But also remember those of us who also had those dreams of husbands and motherhood and whose dreams never became a reality. I know God’s plan for each of us is perfect, yet I sometimes grieve for those experiences that I so dreamed of but which never became mine.
Thank you so much for this encouragement. I have an almost 2 year old and there are days I long for how things used to be. But I would never trade my life. This was the desire of my heart as a young girl. I so badly wanted to be a mom and a wife, exactly what the Lord has allowed for me to be. The days can be long and exhausting, but are so so worth it. I know I will miss these busy fun days when my babies are gone. So I will do my best to cherish them.
How funny that so many of us dreamed dreams inspired by department store catalogs! We did, too!
Love the encouragement in this post. Have read through just a little of your blog – wonderful. So much beauty! I love His whispers of purpose and encouragement, whenever I manage to hear one through the din of my boys growing into men.
Thanks again! I’ll be coming back to read here more often,
I cant tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post. I too was that little girl. While other little girls were dreaming of becoming a teacher, or ballarina, all I ever wanted was to be a mother and a wife. Here I am years later and 3 months away from marrying my provider, protector and prince! I hope one day too that God allows me to take care of a few of his precious children here on earth! beautifully written as always!
Thank you for sharing your heart once again. I so much enjoy the offerings you give us. Each is like a precious jewel.
My life was somewhat different than yours in many ways, yet my desire for a husband, home and children was the same. I too made scrapbooks with pictures of desires in my heart. I am 74 and have raised two sons and recently spent several days with three of my grand-sons while their brother and parents went on a trip to Spain. I can assure you that the mothering gene never dies nor does it get modifed significantly. The aching love, the dreams for each child never stop…even though they are grown with families of their own. Further, when the children have children the prayers, hopes and dreams expand to include them as well. God is so good!
Thank you so much, Joy. That is wonderful to read.
Beautiful post! I too had a JCP catalog and dreamed of the family and home I would have one day.
I LOVE this, like almost every one of your post, but I agree that at 90 I will be longing for those 9 yo dreams. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. And the daily trenches are so so so tough sometimes, but so worth it!
Best of luck with the heat and the babe!
I needed to read this today. I have been in the trenches all week feeling angry and disappointed in myself for losing my patience and my cool too much with my 2 year old as my 5 month old has been on the irritable side… Sometimes it just takes the right words to help me reset and I have found them here. Thank you!
I have “lost touch” with your blog when you changed to wordpress and was so thankful to find you again…one of the first, and still most beautiful, blogs I follow is yours.
I’m recommending this post via my Facebook to all of the young mamas I know. I’m a soon to be 55 year old pastor’s wife, mama and nana…and you are so very right.
Thank you so much, Elizabeth! I’m glad you found me on WordPress, I hate to think that my long-time readers think that I’ve disappeared. Thank you so much for the encouragment.
Since this is the first time I’ve read your blog I have to believe God had a hand in this today. I was pulled in by your staircase and then read on until I found this post. I was brought to tears as this is exactly what I needed to hear today. I too dreamed through the JCP Christmas catalog and I too compare myself to beautiful, tanned, skinny twenty-somethings that lead a seemingly carefree life. What a beautiful reminder that not only am I living out my dream but that I serve a God that loves and cares for me enough to give me these much needed reminders, even when I don’t always prioritize Him.
Thanks and God Bless!
I turned this into my devotional this morning. God really touched my heart with the verses you mentioned. Thank you!!
This is a beautiful post! I am not a Christian, but your words (and the Bible’s) resonate with me.
I always dreamed of being a mother – this was not meant to be. However, I AM able to be a fabulous “Auntie” to my friends’ and cousins’ children. I so treasure my life, exactly as it is. The plan laid out for me is amazing and very, very blessed.
I am grateful for your words that helped me remember this on a day I was feeling a bit down about things. Thank you.
I love this. I have come back twice and have shared it. I love love love it. 🙂