Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This is Hollywood - What's Your Dream?

In 1961 immediately after I turned 15 I went to work in a dime store. For those of you too young to understand that would be like today's Dollar Store. Except better. Dime stores had everything...cosmetics, clothes, jewelry, hardware, buttons, popcorn, peanuts and candy. When I say candy I mean a very long candy counter that had probably 50 or 75 different kinds that had to be ladled out, weighed and put into a sack. For a quarter you could get a good sized sack of chocolate covered peanuts or coconut clusters or peanut brittle or candy corn or orange slices. The popcorn was fresh popped all day long and the scent of it filled the store. Unless the peanuts were frying, and then the smell was different - richer, stronger. My first assignment was the popcorn. On Saturday. When everyone came to town. It cost 10¢ for a tall, skinny sack full and even poor kids got a dime to spend, or maybe a dime to split among four kids, but popcorn was their best buy. So I popped corn all day long in a store that had wood floors, high ceilings and no air conditioner. I don't remember thinking about it being hot because that's what we were used to. I do remember when I got "promoted" to the candy counter and it was the highlight of my career there. I was a skinny kid and working the candy counter was utopia - sneaking a piece of candy or two or three was like finding a diamond on the street.

That was my first job but certainly not my last. I worked until I was 57 when I took an early retirement to help take care of my parents who were both ill. The greatest unfulfilled desire, the most longed for dream, I ever had was that I wanted to be a stay at home mom and never managed it. Oh I talked about it, and I planned for it, but I never achieved it. My husband graduated from college in 1967 and we agreed that as soon as he made $10,000 a year I would quit work. He was a coach and his first contract was for $7800 a year! As his salary rose so did our expenses. We had children, we bought a know the drill. So I continued to work though the venue changed. I became a secretary and I typed and I filed and I answered phones and I dreamed about what it would be like when I got to stay home. No more doing laundry at 10:00 at night. No more going to the grocery store on the way home from work. At least that's what I thought.

When I was 35 God called me to do something utterly rediculous. He wanted me to go to college. That whole story is for another day but kicking and screaming I signed up for classes. Eventually I became a teacher, and then a high school counselor, and an assistant principal, and an assistant superintendent. I don't think there was ever a day that went by that I didn't think, "one of these days I'm going to stay home." Oh, don't get me wrong. I loved what I did. I loved the teenagers I worked with and they occupied a special place in my heart, still do I guess. I thought being an assistant high school principal was the best thing since sliced bread and loved going to work. But always there was this dream waiting.

Five years ago I retired. I spent the first year of it with my parents and that time was the greatest blessing God has ever given me. But for four years I've stayed home. I tried working part time for a little while but nope, didn't like it, didn't want to do it. I wanted home. And girls, it's even better than I dreamed.

God knew the desire of my heart and He could have granted it at any time. He chose the time - not the time I would have picked but the perfect time. If I had stayed home all those years ago when I wanted I would have missed the friends I made at work who loved and encouraged me, who taught me that work is not the dead end I tried to make it but a time of adventure and accomplishment. I would have missed the kids who needed me to tell them they were ok, that they were special, that they were smart and beautiful and loved by God. I would have missed the very real gifts God gave me for doing what He told me to do when I went back to school. And I don't think staying at home would have meant as much to me as it does now.
Do you have a dream? A dream that seems impossible? Please remember that God has perfect timing. Maybe you think He's saying "no," but it could be He's saying "wait." Don't give up on your dream - mine was just a small one and He loves me so much that He paid attention to even that small dream. He knows the desires of your heart, too.
(Photos are all by Flickr)
Oh, and not this isn't really Hollywood, but I just loved that line in Pretty Woman.


Adrienne said...

I do have a dream and I'm living it! I dreamed of leaving my well-paid job to be a chaplain in nursing homes. To follow in the footsteps of my father who was a minister and then a nursing home chaplain the last 18 years of his life. I saw the need and felt God wanted me to do the same. One day just over three years ago my sweetheart and I knew it was time to take a major leap of faith and follow my heart. I've NEVER regretted it. At first it was tough because of the major cut in our income and benefits. We knew this was what we were to do and my ministry has grown and grown to the point that I recently was hired by one of the nursing homes where I had been a volunteer chaplain. Now I'm their first-ever facility chaplain there and share my time between there and the other facilities where I was already established for less hours. My journey to get here was a long one. A journey that led me through many years of working in jobs that I wanted so badly to leave to be at home with my children. I understand perfectly what you've shared today. I've been there. And, yes, some of my dearest friends are from those years. I wouldn't trade them for anything! Thanks for sharing your heart with us today.

Michelle said...

God is just awesome. The hardest part is the wait, but the rewards are wonderful. While you waited, you touched a lot of lives. God needed you to do that for Him. Now, thanks to blogging, you are still touching lives, including mine. You know just what to say at the right times, and even though you didn't know it, you introduced Louie and I to some wonderful new friends.

Our God is an AWESOME God! I'm so glad He loves me, even though I am not worthy.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Working is not the problem. I want, as you did, to be at home for my child. But, work from my home to earn the extra income. I know its possible, too many people are doing it.

Amelia said...

I am also one of those that worked for so many years...and a single parent for many of those years. My daughter told me the other day she has no regrets of my working and not being home. She said she has seen too many kids (now adults) that were products of their stay at home moms that were spoiled and lazy. We know this isn't true of all the kids...but just another side of the story.

God always seems to know what is best for us...he sees the whole picture - not just our little area.


Joyful said...

I really like that line from "Pretty Woman" too!

Many of my dreams have changed over the course of time. Some have been fulfilled, some I've realized weren't God's dreams for me and others I let go as I embraced new dreams. One has remained. Thanks for encouraging me that someday I might still see it materialize.

Thinking of the Disney classic - A dream is a wish your heart makes. Praying that this dream has come from my heart because the Lord has placed it there for me.


Salem Stitcher said...

That story is wonderful and perfectly timed for me. I yearn to do something else with my life. Now is not the time; I know it isn't. It is reassuring that God has a bigger plan and one day, if it is meant to be, change will happen.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Raquel said...

Awesome! I work as a medical transcriptionist and after 12-1/2 years of office politics I had enough. I work from home now, and I love it. Laundry - no problem. Stick dinner in - no biggie. Saves on gas and panty hose for sure! I don't make as much money, but who cares. my peace of mind accounts for so much more than money! Much love, Raquel XO

Raquel said...

Awesome! I work as a medical transcriptionist and after 12-1/2 years of office politics I had enough. I work from home now, and I love it. Laundry - no problem. Stick dinner in - no biggie. Saves on gas and panty hose for sure! I don't make as much money, but who cares. my peace of mind accounts for so much more than money! Much love, Raquel XO

Kelly said...

Oh my, I remember the dime stores! Ben Franklin and Woolworths! Heaven to a little kid! I am glad I got to be a little kid in the 60's and buy penny candy and popcorn and the like at the dime stores!
I am 50 and have worked as a legal assistant for 27 years, 3 years prior to that as a receptionist/secretary. So I have worked outside the home fulltime for a long long time. I have had the same job as a legal assistant for 25 years. But I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up and I don't know what my real dream is. I am to the point where it would be nice to stay home or work part time. There's a lot I like about my job, friends, bosses, etc. But what would it be like to do something else, if I only knew what!

Milah said...

God put the desire in my heart to be a SAHM, but he called me to take a few part-time jobs throughout those years to help make ends meet. I worked part-time as a teller, I worked in accounting and I was a sub for the US Postal service. I too cherish those experiences and the friendships I made. I also grew personally from those experiences. His plan is perfect and he gave me the best of both worlds. By no means did I feel like a failure when I had to go back to work. I thanked God for blessing me with the opportunity to help my family. My kids are grown now and I currnetly have the privilage to tend to my aging parents and in-laws. That is where God wants me now. I did not choose a career, a good thing since God had other plans.

Tracy P. said...

The dime store in the neighborhood strip mall where I lived was called Murphy's. They had the candy counter (oh yes!), and I loved the Brach's chocolate stars and the little circles with white sprinkles (nonpareils?). There was also something that looked like a big Hershey's kiss filled with maple--what was that called? YUMMY memory!

Oh, you are so right Marlene--as I like to say, God is a VERY faithful keeper of dreams! I had my teaching career for 15 years while I set aside my dream of marriage and children, and yes, staying home with them. Actually, I had come to the conclusion that my dream might very well never materialize, and that God was big enough to offer me something that would be better for me. But when I was 35 God returned the dream to me. How thankful I am, though, for those single years, and the fact that I ENJOYED them and appreciated the opportunities they afforded me.

osagebluffquilter said...

A dime store!?!?! I did too from the time I was 16 I worked at T.G.& Y. (or Toys, guns and Yo-yo's as we called it)What was the one you worked in?

Jo S quilter said...

Hi, Marlene....thanks for the memory. My first job was at the Sterlings 5 and 10 cent store. And the first thing I did was work the candy counter. What a job for a skinny girl who didn't gain weight at the time. My favorite was the maple creams. When I ate too many, the manager moved me to the pop corn machine. I was there for a while, until I almost burned up the pop corn machine. Then, he moved me to the cosmetics. I didn't last too long there either.
Some of the "customers" stole the cosmetics right out from under my nose. That was the end of my high school jobs. It's nice to know we have 1st jobs alike. It's nice to know God doesn't give up on us like the store manager. Thanks for making your blog so personal.

Janera said...

Sweet Marlene, this post went straight to my heart! First, the dime store thing? My first job was also in a dime store, and I loved it very much! Perry's.

Then, the school job. Oh, my, what a wonderful and frustrating and blessed occupation to have been called to join. I'm so grateful God gave me the opportunity to do what I'm doing, and to have done it now for 24 years!

But I also always wanted to stay home with my kids. I still do. As much as I love my job, I would love to be able to stay home and keep the house up to par, cook good meals every day, and be here to run forgotten items to town for my kids, take lunch to Electric Man at work, etc.

But, alas, that was not God's plan for my life. And, now my dream is to do mission work in a poor country like Peru, maybe in an orphanage. Right now, there is no money to do that, so maybe you're right -- maybe that dream is one that the Lord will never allow me to do. Or, maybe He just needs me to wait.

Thank you for this lovely, thoughtful post. You are so right.

Elaine Adair said...

A lovely post - I read every comment and the thing I see from ALL of them, and yours, is that people with a positive spirit take the good from each step and use it to take the next positive step. There was no grumbling from any of the commenters, just efforts to keep going, to see what was happening next.

I can't say I followed a dream, but I've been told I have learned how to adjust to what I've been given.

Soldier in Training said...

I love your post today! That is so neat and I'm so glad you shared! A friend and I are always talking about finding a way to stay at home with our kids. I loved how you put it: no more doing laundry at 10:00pm or going to the store after work...I have thought those thoughts many times as I drag in from work to start dinner so late and bathe babies and put them to bed. Then it is time to clean up the kitchen, clean up the bathroom, start laundry, lay out stuff for the next day, get a shower, and start all over again the next day. It has been an eye opener lately because now that my little one is in school, I spend a lot of late nights going through paperwork sent home by teachers, digging up photos or show and tell items, etc that she needs for the following day--and she doesn't have homework yet! Thanks again for sharing this, it is an encouragement and I know that God has me in this place at this time for a reason and I trust Him!

Oma aka Meme said...

yes, I have had dreams and some came and went- some did not happen (which now I see that as a good thing) and now some of dreams are spent but I still dream --hugs from Meme

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Amen! I love the fact that you've shared your story, your dream. There's no doubt in my mind that God's timing is perfect; I know that in my head, and yet my human heart questions and yearns, too. Its all about trust, thanks for reminding us! Great post!!

Living on the Spit said...

What a truly awe inspiring post. I may have to copy this one and read it whenever I get discouraged! I have lots of dreams and sometimes feel they are not worthy of fruition...I struggle with my relationship with God at times and at other times I can feel his handy steady on my shoulder. I know he's there, I just convince myself that he has more important people to tend to other then me. He has blessed me so much already...really lovely post.

Love you!!!


Valerie said...

Dream? This is a great post and a great way to look at your life. I was blessed to stay at home with my children. It wasn't easy. To me, being home is the hardest work there is, while being the most rewarding. Now I am dreaming to have the time to sew.......I know it will come! Just so busy!

Anonymous said...

Boy, this post is close to my good old days when they wore snow suits and mittens and ear muffs. Nice post.

Shabby Olde Potting Shed said...

What can I say; I'm soooo smiling!
You're Dime Store job sure took me back. I walked by Ben Franklin everyday on my way to school in the early 70's. When I had money, I would buy the penny candy. A huge sackful ... sunflower seeds were a nickel a bag, and I think chico-stix were a nickel too. I'd get RICH gathering soda bottles in my wagon and carrying them back to the grocery store. $$Kching baddabing! heehee
But your story about God's timing... AMEN SISTER!
I'm so happy to have met you today!
I'll definitely be dropping in again to see what you're stitchin by the lake.
don't let that fool ya; honestly I HATE FOOTBALL! SHHHH... but the craft fairs are coming up!!whooHOoo

Heather said...

I needed your post today. Thank you.

Linda said...

LOVED this post my friend! You make such a good point about if you hadn't worked. Loved learning more about you. I jutst know that your calling was a blessing to many many families and their children. And now you get to enjoy it's rich rewards - well deserved I might add. From one later in life teacher to another, JOB WELL DONE!

Jacquie said...

What a great post. I spent many years wishing I could be a stay-at-home Mom, but God saw fit to bless me with a very flexible, family-friendly job at our church. I know what you mean...