Hallie absolutely LOVES baby dolls- a stage I hope she stays in for at least a little while longer. I love watching her fill up an old purse of mine with used gift cards in one of my mom’s old wallets, a defunked cell phone, a mystery set of keys, and a checkbook cover and register. She feels so grown up wearing the purse and pushing the stroller and baby around the house.
A friend of ours recently gave me a bag containing a couple of American Girl dolls, a bunk bed, and a handful of outfits. She knew the girls would enjoy them, but I think she had an ulterior motive. Her exact words to me were, “Here you go. You can trip over them at your house, not mine.” Regardless, I was excited to get them.
It took me back a little bit, to when dolls were my favorite thing. Especially American Girl dolls. So I went to my parents’ house and retrieved the dusty tub that contained years of accumulation of dolls, furniture, clothes, shoes, books, and accessories. My plan was to combine all of the items in a corner of the guest room, make a doll nook of sorts, and surprise the girls.
I underestimated how much I would enjoy sorting through my childhood toys. In our marriage, Brandon is definitely the more nastolgic of the two of us, but I think I came close to his level today. As I opened the box, I realized just how much stuff I actually had. As I sorted and reminisced, I had a calm realization of two things today, emotions I didn’t expect to feel. Love and God’s sovereignty.
But before I take you down that more serious road, I have to tell you this funny story. My first doll that I every received was Kirsten. This is when there were only 5 dolls…not 10 million like today. I was about seven, and my parents had really splurged on Christmas that year, getting me the doll I’d begged for. Something we ate that day apparently didn’t set well with my stomach, and I proceeded to puke all over the doll the very first night I slept with her. Yes, puked all over a $120 doll. My mom and dad proceeded to take the doll apart, stuffing and all, and wash her. Her hair never really was the same; it was much more frizzy. But a lot more natural looking. They really were stellar parents.
Growing up, my parents did well, but never had a lot of expendable money. At Christmas, we got the things we needed and many of the things we wanted. I would pick out the outfits and accessories from the catalogue and mark the things that were on my ‘wish list’. Again, branding is everything, and nothing in that catalogue was cheap. When the budget didn’t match my extravagant wishes, they would buy a couple of items, but my grandparents and parents worked together to recreate some of the other items themselves. My grandmother bought patterns and sewed dresses for my dolls. My mom and dad made the hairdresser’s cape that I wanted so badly. Even bought the curlers to go with it. They put a lot of time and creative effort into making it possible to get what I wanted, even when it was more complicated than just buying it outright. It’s a shame I couldn’t appreciate that then. Now I can look back and see just how much they loved me. So much that they made a way to get the things that were important to me, even though it seemed minor to them.
My next memory took me to a day in my early 20s when I finally boxed the last of the doll collection up. Yes, I kept two of them displayed in my room up until then. Like I said, a very nostalgic thing for me. I distinctly remember being a little bit sad that I was physically closing a chapter on my childhood, that dolls no longer had a place in my adult life. But I also remember being excited for the day when I could open that box back up and share it with my own little girl. That she wouldn’t have to wait for birthdays and Christmases to piece together her collection- it would already be complete.
As I thought about the two little girls that I was opening the box up for this time, I was reminded that God is the one who directs my life, regardless of my expectations. My 21 year old self never would have guessed that I would be opening that box back up for two children that I didn’t give birth to. Children whose daddy I love very much, and in turn love them in a unique, just-for-us kind of way. Just as I didn’t fully understand what my parents did for me, they won’t understand the full significance of me passing along childhood memories. Maybe one day they will; but even if they don’t, it still gives me joy to pass it on to them. And I can’t wait to see their faces when they get to our home this weekend.
God has blessed me with a family. Not always the family I imagined, and a family that comes with a few more complixities than some, but a family that loves me and I have the privilege of loving back, blood related or not. And for that, I am grateful.
I’ve recently been praying that God would grant me contentment in all areas of life, and it’s been amazing how He has answered. He’s pushed me to Philippians 4 a lot.
“….I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. (…) And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Jesus Christ.”
God has been teaching me that contentment doesn’t come from Him remedying the situation that is causing worry, but rather learning to trust Him in the midst of those situations. Sometimes our expectations get in the way of being able to receive what it is that we really need.
So I am learning to trust God with all of my needs, family included. Learning to wait and see what kind of plan He has, not what kind of plan I want Him to implement.
And who knows what His plans are for my future yet? There could be another girl still to come who will enjoy these dolls as much as I did, or as much as I pray Hallie and Ava will. But either way, I am trusting that God has orchestrated a plan for my life that I could never have imagined.