If you don't know me, I'll just tell you that my life is annoyingly adorable. But it's totally my dream come true. I'll illuminate you with five facts about me and my precious life:
1. I’m a wife of almost 7 years to my college sweetheart. He’s the guy I met at 19 when my friend force introduced us, telling me she had just met the love of my life. A few weeks later I told my roommate he was the one.
2. I’m a mama. I have 3 (#3 due in 4 weeks) girls under 4. Our days are filled with tea parties and tutus and playgrounds and ice cream by the ocean.
3. I live on tiny St. Simons Island on the coast of Georgia. It’s surrounded by wide low country marshes that wind into the Atlantic, and the streets are lined with 100 year old live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and pure southern charm.
4. I am a dance teacher. I have a sweet on-site preschool dance program, Mini Motions, where I get to introduce tiny dancers to my love of music and dance. Bringing new little people into the world of dance, a world I love. Of creativity and movement and self expression.
5. I go to church. A small, traditional church by the sea. Where my husband is the pianist and I teach preschool choir and show up late every Sunday. Hustling in with two tiny girls and one big belly.
I love God and I love my people. My life with these 4 people. Being their number 1. It’s all I ever wanted. My dream come true. Other dreams came and went and changed and dissolved. But these two roles? Wife and Mama. This is the dream I chased the hardest. Prayed for the most. And now it’s here. I’m living my dream.
My dream life is completely precious. A sweet blur of family and friends and seaside fellowship. The stuff of cheesy Hallmark movies. Gag a little if you must. I’m rolling my eyes at my own preciousness. I also love it, though. Everything about it. But I’ve learned something as my dreams of marriage and motherhood have come to fruition. I’ve learned that this picture perfect dream. These roles. Wife, mother, dance teacher, church goer, islander. It’s not enough. It doesn’t define my true and eternal identity. And it cannot fulfill or complete my soul.
You see, even living this adorable life can be exhausting and monotonous. The days at home with my girls can be so. very. long. Date nights and romance get cancelled for sick babies. And preschool dancers need a lot of potty breaks and tissues. The shininess of the dream dulls. It just does. I think it does no matter what the dream is. Because dreams take work and dedication and perseverance. We work so hard to achieve the dream, and sometimes we get there and panic. Why isn’t this easy and perfect? Why is it still so hard? Why don’t I feel satisfied by this dream come true? What is missing?
For me, in my dream come true, what was missing was myself. I was a collection of defining roles and titles. And those roles and titles were getting harder and heavier to maintain. I needed to separate myself from the dream. To find my worth in something deeper and more eternal than the dream. Because if the dream fell apart, I needed to be rooted in and defined by something unbreakable.
I didn't know where to begin. I had all these big thoughts on identity and purpose and eternity. My head was spinning. So I started really small and simple. I began practicing Gratitude. Intentionally and thoughtfully. Really and truly practicing it. Not just a trivial journal or a thoughtless prayer thanking God for my life. But training my heart and mind to really Selah. To pause and reflect and give praise. All day. Endless reflection and thanksgiving. Analyzing every mundane moment, looking for the gift, the lesson, the Divine. I made lists. I read books. I journaled feverishly. I prayed for help when I just couldn’t be grateful. And I started seeing. Really seeing. I saw God in every glorious and every mundane and every tragic moment. And I learned. I learned that to really love my life and know my identity, I needed to let go of the roles and titles I treasured so much. I had to lose ownership of my dream and learn to accept it all as a precious gift. A gift not earned by my hard work, or deserved, or promised. But a beautiful and fragile gift I’m given for a short time in this life. Gratitude showed me God in every load of laundry, in every monotonous errand, in every tantrum and bleary eyed middle of the night wake up call. Gratitude took the work and pressure from my dream so I could see the fragility and the beauty of it. It repackaged my roles - wife, mama - as gifts instead of identity. And it linked my identity to an eternal God I saw everywhere.
My adorable life is a dream come true. And just like a dream, it’s a moment, a flash, of eternity. It will end. I will suffer in this life. But if I can keep practicing Gratitude - looking for the gift, the lesson, the Divine - in every moment of my dream, I can learn to find it in the darkness too. I can see God. I can see eternity. In the light and in the darkness. And that is the real dream come true. The real gift.
My Gratitude practice started simple and felt a little trite at first, with lists and journals and books and sayings on the walls. But it's grown into this way of being, this mindset, this part of me that makes life so much richer and more beautiful.
If you want to baby step into your own Gratitude Practice, try this 5 day Gratitude Challenge and see where you are led.