This week, my friend Chrystal Evans Hurst released a book that speaks directly to my heart. It’s called She’s Still There, and I’m thrilled Proverbs 31 Ministries will be doing an Online Bible Study of it starting September 5.
I clearly remember when I had forgotten who I was. I was a young mom and had just had my third boy. I NEVER allowed myself to prefer a boy or a girl, so I wasn’t disappointed at having another boy. I loved being a mom of boys then, and I love it now. (And we just had our first grandson, so I get to do it again) But with all the masculinity in my home, I needed a reminder that I was still in there. I wish I’d had Chrystal’s book back then.
Normally, I’d invite Chrystal to write something. If you’d like to read something from Chrystal, please click here to read an awesome devotion she wrote. But today, I want to share something I wrote 21 years ago. In that span of time, we adopted two little girls who are now 19 and 22, so if you know my story, this was written before then. I’m sharing it now without any editing.
Somewhere between the birth of my first and second boy, I temporarily set aside the very feminine part of me that God created.
When the third male child came along, I was outnumbered four to one. I was a lone female drowning in a sea of masculinity. Even the dog was a he.
Amidst the adorable little blue outfits, the cars and trucks, and the always-dirty hands, I gave up trying to forge a path of prettiness or find some traditional beauty in my home. I forgot about the desire in my heart for creating a lovely haven and spent my days just trying to keep my head above water.
I love having all boys and thank the Lord daily for allowing me to be their mother. Because I grew up with three sisters, I know all about being a girl. Now I get to learn all about boys. I love their straight-forwardness, energy and curiosity. I love their “big” play and daring escapades. I am immersed in masculinity and enjoy discovering the inner workings of the male mind. And for the most part, I revel in my blessings.
However, in this joyful submersion into boyhood, there is a part of me I allowed to be buried. That part that loves the color pink and freshly cut flowers, Wedgwood china tea pots and restaurants in turn-of-the-century houses. The part that adores ruffles, fluffy pillows and white linen blouses. Somehow these loves got set-aside in the rough and tumble world of boys.
I remember a rare shopping trip alone as I came upon some adorable matching tennis shoes, obviously created for a mother and daughter. I thought, “I wish I had a little girl to dress up.” As I stood and pondered this, another thought came to me, “Wait a minute. I am a girl!” When did I forget this?
Now, this might sound unusual to women who have never misplaced their sense of identity. I’m not sure how it happened to me. The best I can figure out is I got overwhelmed with trying to create a picture-perfect life and gave up somewhere along the way. I decided my home and life could never look like the magazines I loved.
Before I became a mother of boys, I had envisioned a world of beauty that I would create. My clothes would be perfectly clean (meaning no food on my shoulder from little faces), flowers in every room, embroidered pillows lovingly fluffed and delicately placed on spotless over-stuffed furniture. In this make-believe world, I would have an hour to sit on my patio, sipping coffee, and reading a book. I could decorate my living room and enjoy it for more than an hour. When this didn’t happen, I became discouraged.
Then one day it struck me that I needed to incorporate the things I love into my “real” world. While I may not be able to do everything I want now, I can do something. And because I live with three active little boys, in this season of my life, my ideal, beautiful life happens in moments.
I have recognized the importance of choosing to find beauty and rediscover who I am and what I love, in the smallest moments of my day.
Today I find pleasure in the quiet of the house before my family awakes. I relish my first sips of steaming coffee. I love my pink bathrobe and matching slippers and their comforting warmth. My heart is warmed as I drink from a special mug – a gift from my younger sister.
The grocery store-bought flowers brighten my kitchen, and the candles on the dinner table add a small amount of elegance to an everyday meal.
While my furniture may not be designer quality, I can make sure that my windows are shined allowing the brilliant sunlight to brighten my mood. Outside my windows I place pots of flowers filled with vibrant colors. A flag with pansies matches the “welcome” plaque on my door.
I love the look of prettily-framed family pictures atop a white linen dresser runner. Pillows made by my mother out of her grandmother’s Sun Bonnet Sue quilt look down at me from the armoire and remind me of love passed through generations.
While I probably won’t attend tea parties with my boys, I am committed to teaching them to cook and bake. Our time in the kitchen together is priceless as they learn skills that help with their independence and perhaps will make them a better husband some day. Together we attend garden shows and return home to plant gardens filled with flowers and vegetables.
Today I have a choice. I can allow my dreams and desires to slip away from me and be left in disillusionment or I can cherish the little things. I can choose to look for the loveliness in my life and while doing that, teach my boys to appreciate and respect things of beauty. I have an exciting chance to influence three little boys to honor women and the things we love.
My choice is to not resent my circumstances, but to be creative.
God chose me for this assignment, and I pray daily for strength to be whom He wants me to be; and the energy to do what He has called me to do. I choose not to wish today away, but to look for opportunities.
Someday my house will stay straightened and my clothes will be free of smudges from little hugs. Someday I will have a leisurely telephone conversation with a friend. Someday I will be able to write without being interrupted five times.
However, on that day I know I will miss the sweetness of the good night kiss I just received from my eldest son.
Now that is a beautiful moment.
Recognize the woman you were meant to be as you set out on a journey to find direction, purpose and true satisfaction. Join us for the next Online Bible Study at Proverbs 31 Ministries.
Our study is based on the new book She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl In You by Chrystal Evans Hurst. It’s a book of “me toos,” reminders of the hoped for, and challenges for the path ahead—to find direction, purpose, and true satisfaction.