once upon a time | the future is now

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.
— corrie ten boom

Once upon a time, a woman started a blog. She had no intentions other to find a space where her voice mattered. Being a mother of many, her hours were devoted to

keeping a home

living, loving, learning, and laughing with her children

the feeding and care of them, him, and others

At the end of the day, she had forgotten who she was or who she thought she was. Truth be told, moving immediately from adolescence to motherhood and marriage isn't conducive to establishing self identity. She went seeking herself in the words she could type out on a computer, click a publish button, and send out into the great world wide web. 

She found herself and she found others as well. Life seemed less lonely while navigating through thoughts, ideas, and dreams with kindred souls. The twists and turns of the quest led to a lovely life quite different than she ever imagined. A free life. 

In the thirteen years or so since I wrote my first blog, I've lost something. What began as a way to write the words I couldn't speak aloud, to be in conversation with others who were asking the same questions, became something else. Along the way, blogging in general became a tool in the business way of things and blogging for me personally became a hoop I had to figure out how to jump through. The simplicity, and the beauty thereof, was lost. 

But I'm a re-claimer, a restorer, a redeemer.

I love to take what has been abandoned, used and discarded, and return purpose to it. 

So here I am on a mission to bring back the blogging experience. Maybe its a futile and foolish endeavor but hey, if vinyl can make a comeback, maybe there's hope for the lowly blog. 

I have a backlog of thirteen years of posts. Some make me cringe, others make me laugh, many were written in moments of tremendous transition. I've spent years running as hard as I can from who I was and in the process, I've left treasures behind and I've dishonored she who was. In this weekly series, Once Upon a Time, I am returning to the words I've written over the years. I'm returning value to the process of healing and becoming. I am remembering that all the chapters of my story matter. 

We'll begin with a post I made in June of 2007. It is interesting because I was answering questions about my past, present, and future ... ten years into the future which would bring us to this moment in time. 

Here is what I wrote then:

Where were you in 1987? In school? Working? Single? Married? Attached? What was important to you? What were you doing creatively? Tell us a bit about your life then.

In 1987 I was 23 years old and living in Memphis, TN. It was the best and worst move of my life. Though it was hot, dirty, too far from my hometown, Memphis was my growing up. I learned there that I am strong, I am able, I am free. My husband and I were still newlyweds, married only 18 months. Two beautiful daughters brought joy and wisdom to our lives. That was the season that I decided I needed to be a mom, a stay at home mom, busying myself with raising my children. At first, it was a choice of need for their sakes, over the next years, it became the greatest desire of my life. I have never regretted that decision (and though they don’t remember, it was my dear mother in law and father in law that told me that they thought I should stay home and not pursue going back to school and working … Thank you Mom and Dad!)

Where were you in 1997? What would you like to share about the nineties?

Hhhhm, I must have taken that mothering thing seriously. On my birthday in 1997, I was expecting my 8th child. It was a difficult year for me. The pregnancy, though physically as healthy as I always had, was an emotionally difficult one. I was feeling overwhelmed with life, with the children I already had and the commitment to educate them at home and with bringing another one into the fray. It was the beginning of the end of childbearing for me as I went on to only have one more child after birthing my son that year. 1997 brought teenagers to our family and I learned that though little ones require a lot of physical energy but finishing out the job of raising adults takes more emotional and mental energy. There was joy, always joy … how can there not be in our family? But there was definitely a sense of a change in the atmosphere, a change that would alter our course.

Where did you plan to be or think you'd be in 2007? Have your realized your goals? What is one thing about your present life you love and one you'd like to change?

There was a time that I thought I would still be having babies into my forties. I could be. I used to joke that my daughter and I would be pregnant at the same time . . . we could be. She is expecting her first child, my first grandson, in October. But there are no more babies for me.

Have I realized my goals? I don’t think I had goals other than to raise my children. Some of them are adults, most of them are teenagers and I am realizing that there are not too many more years left. Where will that leave me? That conscious thought has pushed me into a time of discovery, a time of transition. I am beginning to recreate who I am so that there will be someone left when all these children are grown. My creative soul is emerging as I practice and define artistic skills that were suppressed most of my life. My desire to be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger even than this family is consuming. A weight of responsibility is upon me … I feel a call to make a difference.

I love that I have discovered the freedom to create, the passion to learn and the courage to speak. If I could change on thing, I would change my location. I long to be in my beloved hometown … which is only a short drive away, but still too far.

How do you see your life in 2017? Do you have any goals or dreams for your future?

Ten years from now, I will be 53 years old and my youngest will be seventeen, almost eighteen. I will be at the end of a season. But that just means I will also be at the beginning of a season. How exciting!

In ten years times, we may lose beloved family members . . . but we will probably also add on with sons in law and daughters in law and grandchildren. I’d love to have realized my dream to be living in my hometown and to be immersed in a community of people who are creative, socially aware, followers of Christ. I dream of a community center that offers cultural stimulation . . . art, music, drama, literature, film, discussion. I pray that I would be actively working in setting right the injustices of the world, partnering with Christ to bring forth the kingdom of heaven by giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, freeing slaves, nurturing the environment and more … always more. I hope that I will be happily discontent, joyfully uncomfortable . . .oh that I would never fall into a state of complacency and apathy.




Here I am in 2017.

The future is now. 

2017 cynthia lee

What I wrote then is true now. We have lost beloved family members. In 2007, when I wrote those words, my father had been gone for three years. My father-in-law left us in 2010, my nephew in 2013, my mother in 2014, and my brother in 2016. 

Though we don't have sons and daughters in law added to the family, we do have the ones that our children love. My first grandson was born a few months after I originally wrote this post and another grandson came to us two years later. Our family is rich and full. 

I've realized that dream of living in my hometown. We've been here for eighteen months now. I have creative and socially aware friends. I still dream of that cultural center and though I might now have it all in one place, I am engaging with elements of it that already exist in our community. 

The one thing that is not present in the future that is now is Christ. I left behind the faith of my childhood years ago. If I  remove just these words, "partnering with Christ to bring forth the kingdom of heaven", everything else still holds true. Righting the wrongs of injustice is still important to me. Those were big words back then, full of the hopeful optimism that sometimes feels faded today. Sometimes, I feel that there is little I can do and other days, I know that even an act of self care and declaration is a powerful agent.

I love that I ended with blessing myself with being happily discontent and joyfully uncomfortable. That is what keeps me seeking, curious, engaged with learning and living. I don't think I have to ever fear complacency or apathy being rooted within me. 

Many times, I have said that I have trouble vision casting. Obviously, I did pretty well at setting forth my ten years forward life. I hadn't remembered that I had wished so many years ago to move back to my hometown. Here I am. 

Now, I wonder what 2027 will be?