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When I Grow Up

This past weekend I celebrated my thirty seventh birthday, although celebrate and thirty seven are hard for me to write in the same sentence. I am inching dangerously closer to forty. I try to be like those women who embrace aging, but I remember even being a teenager and feeling apprehensive about the numbers getting bigger. I think if I dig deep, the truth has more to do with how fast life is going than really how old I am getting, but the two are for sure entwined. At this age, I should know what I want to do when I grow up – my goodness I should be doing it. I love our work with Mercy Branch. I am so passionate about reunifying families. However, our work in Mercy Branch has suddenly changed, and I do not get to be daily hands-on anymore. Instead my work will now be more behind-the-scenes advocating, managing, and fund-raising. It is hard to come to grips with that, but it is the season that we find ourselves in. And I find myself wrestling with now what?

I have had this little seed of a dream for over a year now. I have only whispered it to a few of my bests. It seems crazy, and the timing is not right for now, but I continually dream about when it might be right. The dream was ignited in a small conference room when an immigration lawyer and a group of law students brushed over my hours of research that I came armed with, and told me that the path I had carved out for my son’s citizenship was impossible. I knew it wasn’t. I already shared the end of the story before. It wasn’t impossible, but it did take an extensive amount of research and work to make it happen.  I began to dream and wonder. I wondered how many immigrants had been told it was impossible, and how many had been told ‘no’ by immigration lawyers who did not want to learn and research new ways and keep up with ever-changing immigration laws.

I have always loved researching. I am the type of person who when purchasing an item, for example off of Amazon, will read every single review on the product – and enjoy reading them! It is an actual fun activity for me. I carefully make my decision after literal hours of comparing and contrasting and reading reviews. I like researching; actually that is an understatement, I love researching. I spend way too much time doing just this about everything and anything one can imagine. I diagnosed Jamesy, based off of the little bit we knew in his referral medical documents, and with extensive research pouring over online medical journals, prior to him coming home, and I ended up being correct. I learned a lot about the process for immigrants to become citizens in America. I read over tedious immigration law, and I was fascinated. I ate it up. I became captivated with what I learned. I cannot imagine, a foreigner coming to our country, trying to navigate the process alone, and yet I know this happens as it can be hard to find a good immigration lawyer. Living overseas for two years made me sensitive to noticing how foreigners, being one myself, were treated in another country. I was constantly wondering how foreigners in my own country were treated. My heart has always been for people that don’t quite ‘fit in’. When I put all of this together, I landed at a big dream – some day going back to school to become a paralegal for an immigration lawyer.

To be completely transparent, I sometimes think that I want to actually be an immigration lawyer, and work entirely pro-bono. However, there are many problems with this. One we are not rich enough to do that, and I am not really smart enough to get through law school. (This is not self-deprecating, just fact.) Also, I really don’t like talking to people all that much. I think I would rather sit in a small office all day long with law books and research my days away! That is the dream that I am waiting to be unleashed. The timing is certainly not now, and may not be ever. Truthfully, a new dream may birth itself. Right now I want to raise my babies. I want to be an intentional mama. But maybe one day in the future, when I grow up, I will become a paralegal for an immigration lawyer.

“Don’t you find it odd,” she continued, “that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.”
― Ethan Hawke

What’s the dream of your heart? I think we all have the seeds of a dream deep inside. Sometimes for us stay-at-home mamas, they are hard to realize. We are so busy fostering the dreams of our children, that I think sometimes our dreams get squandered. I think they are there, though. It is important to keep dreaming and reaching for our dreams. Our kids need to see us doing what we love and passionately pursuing what God created us to do. I think of this often as I encourage my oldest in attaining his dream of making it to the Premier League to play soccer. Sometimes I watch him work for this dream, and feel sad, because I swallow the lie that it is too late for my dreams.


But the truth is, it is never too late. I am thirty seven years old, and I am still discovering what I want to be when I grow up. Keep dreaming, friends. Dreams really can come true.


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  1. Excellent! True Tiff. It was so good to see you all yesterday and hug you and reassure you that it will be okay. How do I know? Because I know WHO is still in control. This time in your life may not be where you want to be , doing what you want to be doing, but this is where GOD has you. “GROW where you are planted” someone once said. Keep the memories and the dreams flowing. Love you and praying for you all. It was so good to see and hug all of you. Love, love you.

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