We all have dreams – work we want to do, influence we’d like to have, places we’d love to see, children we’d love to raise, people we’d like to meet . . . Sometimes these dreams come true; sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they are deferred or delayed. This group of blogs shares the stories of dreams deferred by mem- bers of two writing groups I lead in Holland, MI. In this post, Robin Tucker describes her life-long dream of living on a farm. For other posts in this category go to the home page and click on the category A Dream Deferred on the right hand sidebar.
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I stood at my bedroom window with a sorrowful gaze, staring at the neighbors’ house. From within, I could hear the mother yelling once again at her children. Why can’t I be looking at a barn and fields instead?” I wondered. I thought once more of my grandparents’ acre of paradise with its fruit trees, vegetable garden, and the old shed that had once housed chickens. I remembered galloping across the grass with my cousin on pretend ponies and picking juicy, plump berries with Grandma for pies and jam.
Why must I be here instead of there? My third-grade mind replayed the explanation. My parents, concerned about the increasing violence in Detroit, had chosen to move our family to a smaller, safer town. Clean, family-friendly Holland, MI had won their hearts.
My father was a barber by profession and wanted his own shop. To afford that, a compromise on housing was necessary. Mom and Dad had settled on a small “fixer upper” with a shared driveway and a postage stamp yard within easy walking distance of our elementary school. The neighbors on this shady, tree-lined street were sociable and kind. To my parents, it seemed the perfect Mayberry for their young girls.And yet within me, a hunger burned. For from birth, God had made me a country girl. I had a dream: I wanted to own a farm.
The desire fired my imagination. While other girls pretended to be princesses in palaces, I was a farmers’ wife feeding my animals. When we were finally allowed to own Barbies, I wanted Johnny West, the cowboy with his action horse and cardboard ranch house. When our ancient garage collapsed during a West Michigan snowstorm, I tried to convince my parents to replace it with a small barn, failing to understand why neither the city nor my parents were livestock friendly.
My expressive dreams were met with tolerant nods, smiles, and encouraging words like, “You could grow up to be a teacher or a secretary…” After all, I was a city girl. No one in our family was a farmer, except of course, Uncle Ken the horse rancher who had problems with alcohol and was getting a divorce. Even my beloved Grandma, with her love for all-things country, had learned to find contentment in her flower and vegetable gardens in a suburb of Detroit.
Gradually, I perceived how foolish and immature my thoughts sounded to others. Embarrassed, I tucked them away in a deep corner of my heart, only allowing them to reappear to myself in lonely sorts of times and places.
And the years flew by.
In college, to be sensible and pleasing to my mother, I pursued a secretarial degree. Never mind that I was awful at typing and hated shorthand. I lovingly supported my husband through graduate degrees and job changes. I led my children through life, encouraging them to follow dreams of their own. I willingly recognized this as a season of “others.” My own passions would…could…just wait awhile.
But a curious pattern began to emerge. When David’s first graduate studies took us to Lincoln, Nebraska, the duplex I liked best was on the edge of town, backed by nothing but cornfields. The townhouse where our first daughter was born was surrounded by woods. The house we built in Massachusetts was on 3 acres of wooded hills and yes, I had my first chicken coop there because it seemed educational for our home schooled girls to know where their food was coming from. When circumstances led us to live in an apartment for 9 years, I made sure that the slider faced an enormous field so that I wouldn’t have to look at other apartments and then found a way to brood meat chicks in the storage room of the garage.
And the years flew by.
My husband established his career. The girls grew up, got married, and moved away. And finally, during a simple empty nesters’ conversation about what to do with the rest of our lives, the clouds of distraction and delay parted, and clarity shone down. The time had come. We bought a farm.
Five years have now passed. I wait for the births of this year’s goat kids. I prepare the pen for the new piglets and begin taking orders for grass-fed lambs. I think about the 300 meat chickens we will raise and mentally schedule their butchering dates as I stock the farm store refrigerator with today’s fresh eggs.
While I work, my heart sings with thankfulness for I am living the dream that came true. Delayed? Maybe, but having waited for decades I now understand what only time and wisdom can teach.
When a dream is from God, it never dies. To others, it may sound like foolishness and that’s okay—it’s not their dream, never was, never will be. He intended it to be solely for you. To ignore a dream implanted by God is to ignore the person He created. Like the foolish servant who buried his master’s entrusted talent, ignoring our passion means wasting what we have been personally given to do.
Dreams entrusted to God find their fulfillment in His perfect timing, in His perfect way. It was right to help my husband. Ignoring the needs of my daughters to insist on my own agenda would have been wrong. God knew when and how. I only needed to wait.
Besides, it’s more fun! Who could have guessed that we would buy our first real farm at the age of 55 and that it would be successful? What a surprise to learn that 3 ½ acres, a mile outside of town would be more suitable than 17 acres buried deep in the country? God knew, and I think He smiles as He continues to gradually unfurl His plans for me to see.
I watch my daughters as busy mothers. Traces of their own dreams manage to peak through their distracted lives. I smile a remembering smile and whisper a prayer that they will keep right on dreaming until their day of fruition arrives. For it will.
Life is what happens while waiting on our dreams. Some people are fortunate to experience both.