Her niece, Jessica, was an RA in our dorm that year, and it worked out well for our dorm group that Dean Dawn also lived in an apartment in our dorm. I like to think our Braxton group was her favorite because we got to spend all sorts of quality time with her. That's probably why I'm such an awesome person today, because of all of Dawn's love and mothering of us.
Now that I'm 12 years out of ORU and life has changed dramatically for both of us, I have so enjoyed getting to know her as a friend. I think we're probably related somehow, too. She rides Harleys (she's the sales manager at Myers-Duren Harley in Tulsa, so if you need a bike, go see her!) and has a goddaughter at the same special school my nephew, Solo, goes to. And just recently, she became a foster mom.
(Dawn, with her goddaughter, Morgan)
I used to say that I wouldn't get married until Dean Dawn did. She was so awesome and I thought I could convince God to bring her a husband sooner if I offered to hold off on mine. Well, God doesn't work that way, fortunately (for me and John), and though His ways are a mystery, they are good. She doesn't blog, but sends out a monthly email called "Friday Evening Ponderings" to her favorite people. She agreed to let me use last week's as a blog post, making her my first guest blogger.
This past Monday, I made my way to a shopping mall in pursuit of a special clothing purchase. I don’t really care for clothes shopping these days, and quite frankly, I’d be perfectly happy to never step foot into the mall again. But on this occasion, I was pretty excited to begin the hunt for a garment that would hold special meaning.
With Baby M in tow, I made my way through the likes of JC Penney, Dillards, and Macy’s. Dress shopping is never easy for me, but I was determined to continue my search until I’d found what I wanted. Sure enough, after several unsuccessful fittings of various dresses, I happened upon a two-piece suit that screamed my name. The fit was perfect. Thrilled with my find, I made my way to the check-out counter. The sales associate rang up my purchase and as she placed a garment bag over the suit, she asked, “What’s the occasion?”
“A wedding," I replied. And then, without giving it a second thought, I proudly announced, “Actually, I’m a first time Mother of the Bride!”
Mother of the Bride. These are words I would never have imagined saying in reference to myself, yet, there they were. A moment later, the impact of this realization caused my heart to swell with a form of happiness I’ve never known.
Now, before you think I’ve lost my marbles or that I’m suddenly revealing a hidden aspect of my life, let me explain. My lovely niece, Jessica, will walk down the aisle one week from tonight. While all of my nieces and nephews are near and dear to me, I hold a unique relationship with Jessica due to the way our lives have intertwined. She has been very present in my life for her entire 31 years, and I in hers. She lived with me two different times while attending ORU and has been subject to my “mothering” on many occasions. There has never been, nor will there ever be a time, when I will not feel that she is, in fact, my child.
So, when she became engaged and started to make wedding plans, she asked her “real” mother (my sister, Mary), if she would be o.k. with sharing the “Mother of the Bride” title with me. Being the wonderful big sister that she is, Mary agreed. And just like that, a hidden longing of my heart became a dream come true.
Many years ago, a young man named Anthony approached me during a chapel service at ORU. He felt impressed to share a specific passage of scripture with me, and to encourage me with something he felt in his heart, which was a knowing that I would indeed be a mother one day. At the time, I found hope in the words he spoke and even kept a written record of them in my Bible. But as time marched on, and my dreams of marriage, children and family remained unfulfilled, I grew angry with God. Actually, I became quite cynical and suspicious in regard to scripture. While I remained fairly confident that the promises in the Bible could be valid, I simply concluded that they were not meant for me. After years of waiting, it had become obvious that God wasn’t interested in granting me the desires of my heart.
Or so I thought.
The passage that Anthony shared with me on that day is found in Isaiah 54, verses 1-2:
“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song and shout for joy, you who were never in labor, because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband, says the Lord. Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”
As I walked out of the store on Monday, I caught a reflection of myself in a pane of glass. In that refection, I saw a woman, who, with one hand, was pushing a stroller, which held a beautiful baby girl, and with the other hand, was holding her “Mother of the bride” suit. Instantly, the memory of Anthony’s words from all those many years ago flooded my mind and heart. At that moment, I not only realized who I am to Jessica and Baby M, but to the dozens and dozens of other children, both grown and young, who consider me as their mother. And with that, came a piercing awareness that was undeniable and profound … God had not forgotten me.
I AM a mother. And though I am not mothering in the way I hoped I would, I am a mother, all the same. I did not arrive at this place in accordance with my own plans. The road I traveled to get here is not even close to the one I thought I’d take. I could NEVER have calculated this journey, even if I were given a thousand years to do so. I have children, not in the way I thought I would, but in the way God planned. All along the way, God has been positioning my careers, my friends, and my encounters, causing them to line up with an extraordinary harmony that has made the seemingly impossible, possible.
When God says, “I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you … plans to give you hope and a future," He really does mean it. It might not feel like it at times, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Tonight, I want to encourage you to sing out with joy … to enlarge the place of your dwelling and to not hold back on what you’ve been holding as the desire of your heart. God hears you … He knows what you long for. Do not grow faint, but trust that your life, like mine, will fall into order as it should.