Long before I ever thought of a bucket list, there were occupations and avocations I thought I would like to try. I have always been pretty sure I could do anything I wanted to if I just set my mind to it.
When we were ten years old, being a nurse was something my best friend and I thought would be exciting. The only nurses we knew were at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota, and they were Benedictine nuns. So we grabbed big white dishtowels and wrapped them around our heads to resemble the wimples worn by the nurses we had seen. We gave each other “nun” names. She was Sister Marylika and I was Sister Elainica. To this day we sign our letters with those names, sometimes with strange modifications.
For several months I worked as a nursing assistant at a convent and nursing home for the Sisters of Notre Dame. That experience filled my nursing ambitions, and while there I was frequently hailed as “Sister.” It was hard work, but there were great moments.
One of my duties was to help the Sisters with their baths. As that can be awkward, it was helpful to engage them in conversation about the students they taught or about their families. One Sister volunteered that she had three older brothers. She was well into her 90’s and I asked her, “Are they all in Heaven now?” Her eyes twinkling, she replied, “I doubt it. They were all attorneys.”
Working at a Christian bookstore met my longing to be around books—lots of books. Bibles, too. One of my favorite stories from that season was about the woman who came in looking for a Bible. Ever helpful and of course highly qualified, I pointed out the many versions available and inquired, “Which kind (meaning translation) would you like. Indignant, she looked at me, incredulous. “Why, the HOLY Bible, of course.”
When I was four years old, I loved to play house. Although I lived on the farm, in my fantasy my husband was wearing a suit and tie when he came home from work and our children’s hair was a shining blond This was my earliest dream to come true.
The reality was far more wonderful than the dream—not two, but three beautiful kids with shining blond hair, and they have multiplied our blessings with eight grandchildren. The grandkids don’t all have blond hair, but thick brunette hair pleases greatly, too.
Marrying a good and loving man–who came home wearing a suit and tie–means I am still experiencing a dream that grows richer and deeper with every flip of the calendar page.
There were things I always wanted and that I had for a while: A truck, a big house, even a Cadillac. All of these came to pass and I enjoyed them tremendously, although I was always quite aware that these were just things and not the stuff of dreams at all.
When my grandmother passed on, I received a little inheritance that I used to buy a dishwasher. It seemed appropriate. She hated washing dishes as much as I did.
I passed the State boards to be licensed as a Real Estate Broker. It was while doing that work I coined one of my favorite (to me) observations: Work is so time-consuming.
Regrets? I’ve had a few. I never finished my degree which would have enabled me to follow up on another dream, that of being a minister, a pastor or teacher. But for years I was privileged to teach an adult Bible class in our church, and by God’s amazing, extravagant grace, as a volunteer I did function as a Chaplain in prison for a time.
All along the way, I simply assumed that if I wanted to do something, I could do it.
Then one day the calendar caught up with me and I realized I was never going to go the Police Academy to become a street cop.
Sometimes I’m tempted to discouragement, thinking that at my age—70’s—my possibility ships have all sailed.
I still would like to ride a Harley—that’s on my bucket list—but my husband says it will likely be the last item on the list. He doesn’t think I could survive a ride on hog. He may be right.
And taking a vacation in a big RV? That may be another ship that has sailed. Maybe sunk.
Well, I could go on and on, but I have come to a grateful conclusion: With my life in the hands of a good and loving Father, dreams really do come true, and He has a dream for me.
Now that I am no longer out there in the thick of daily living, now that I have time to read and reflect, to pray and to listen, I find God is still on my case. He is still teaching me and daily shedding new light on eternal truth. I am grateful that God is a living reality in my life. He is ever calling me upward, healing my heart and renewing my mind.
My ship is still sailing, and when the storms come and seas churn, I find He is here in my ship with me, saying “Peace, be still.”