Real Life…(when I grow up)

I grew up in a household with many books. Especially children’s books.

One of my Mama’s favourites, and mine too, is a sweet book called Miss Rumphius.
In this book, a little girl dreams of growing up and traveling and seeing the world like her sea-Captain-artist Grandpa, and then when she is old, living in a house by the sea as he does. He tells her there is also a special thing she must do…she must make the world a more beautiful place.

“‘All right’ said Alice, but she did not know what that would be.”


Little Alice Rumphius grows up and has many travel adventures and experiences…and eventually gets older, and lives in a little house by the sea that she just loves. She hurts her back, and becomes ill, and as she lies in bed getting better, she wonders (worries?) what she will do to fulfill the important thing her Grandfather charged her with…to make the world a more beautiful place.

There are many things I thought I’d do or be ‘when I grew up’, such as:
I’d Learn to cook
Get Married
Have a family
Read the books I wasn’t allowed to read until after 8th grade…
Play an instrument well enough to play in front of people
Speak French fluently
Look to the Lord…a lot

The funny thing I’ve been realizing is that sometimes, subconsciously, I still have this mindset of what will happen in the future as an adult…even though I am ‘grown up’, only now I think of it in terms of ‘when my real life begins’.

Sometimes I realize my mind is saying my ‘real life’ will start when I get married. Or my ‘real life’ will start when I reach a certain level in my work…or when I have a certain type of job…or when I stop being a certain way…or when I am thinner, kinder, more spiritual, or when I’m stronger at shunning evils, (or whatever it is that day…)

I think one reason for this focus on a mythical future is because life doesn’t always look the same as we imagine it will… one woman who imagined an art career may have instead the job of using her artistic talents to creatively raise and educate a family of potential angels for the Lord. One woman who imagined raising a family may instead have the use of teaching other people’s children with love, tenderness, and intense love for their innocence and the growth of their minds. One woman who thought she’d be married may instead end up with a business and the job of supporting marriage through that medium. The list goes on.

However, that does not mean life is in the future, ‘when I grow up”–it is now. No matter how it is turning out. No matter if it is as I expected it to be.

The Story of Alice Rumphius continues with Miss Rumphius going on a walk for the first time after her illness, and rejoicing in the un-looked-for growth of hundreds of Lupine plants that were just out of sight of her sickroom window…their seeds having blown from her garden in the wind when she couldn’t see them, and transplanting into a delightful trove for her to discover. 
This unexpected find sparks her inspiration for how she will make the world a more beautiful place.

And so she becomes the Lupine Lady…wandering the hills and valleys near her home with pockets full of Lupine seeds, sowing handfuls, not minding the comments of those who wonder what strange thing she is up to…knowing that each handful she scatters will delight those same people when Spring touches the hills.


Reading in Divine Providence, it is so comforting and clear that no matter what occurs, or what form life takes, the Lord is always guiding it every minute, constantly, and His merciful tools of examination and repentance lead directly to Him blessing us…and to building a Heaven for us.

We read in Divine Providence 332-333:

The activity of divine providence to save man begins at his birth and continues to the close of his life and afterwards to eternity. It was shown above that a heaven from mankind is the very purpose of the creation of the universe; that this purpose in its operation and progress is the divine providence for the salvation of man; and that all which is external to man and available to him for use is a secondary end in creation–in brief, all that is to be found in the three kingdoms, animal, vegetable and mineral. When all this constantly proceeds according to laws of divine order fixed at the first of creation, how can the primary end, which is the salvation of the human race, fail to proceed constantly according to laws of its order, which are the laws of divine providence?

[2] Observe just a fruit tree. It springs up first as a slender shoot from a tiny seed, grows gradually into a stalk, spreads branches which become covered with leaves, and then puts forth flowers and bears fruit, in which it deposits fresh seed to provide for its perpetuation. This is also true of every shrub and of every herb of the field. Do not each and all things in tree or shrub proceed constantly and wonderfully from purpose to purpose according to the laws of their order of things? Why should not the supreme end, a heaven from the human race, proceed in similar fashion? Can there be anything in its progress which does not proceed with all constancy according to the laws of divine providence?…

[4] True, man is a corrupt tree from the seed, but still a grafting or budding with shoots taken from the Tree of Life is possible, by which the sap drawn from the old root is turned into sap producing good fruit. The comparison was drawn for it to be known that when the progression of divine providence is so constant in the growth and rebirth of trees, it surely must be constant in the reformation and rebirth of human beings, who are of much more value than trees…

The activity of divine providence for man’s salvation is said to begin with his birth and continue to the close of his life. For this to be understood, it should be known that the Lord sees what a man’s nature is and foresees what he wills to be and thus what he will be. For him to be man and thus immortal, his freedom of will cannot be taken away. The Lord therefore foresees his state after death and provides for it from the man’s birth to the close of his life.”

And so when those subconscious thoughts come to the surface: ‘When I am _____, my Real Life will begin’ or ‘This isn’t what I expected’ I want to choose instead to lift my eyes and notice with gratitude the blessings that have blossomed in such unexpected ways, carpeting newly-discovered hills, splashing the edges of never-guessed-at paths, and nestling in the fence corners of this life. 

I want to remember that the Lord is every moment preparing something around the next bend, planting seeds in currently-barren fields, and guiding every step towards a New Will from Him, and toward a heaven created from the human race.


In this moment in my life.

“This is the day that Jehovah has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)


*(Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney)

About Annina

Raised in Kempton, PA, and still considers it home. Annina is a designer, artist, entrepreneur, and teacher. She is also a sister, daughter, friend, aunt, niece, cousin, and granddaughter who is grateful for her large, loving family, and her upbringing in the New Church. She finds great strength in the doctrines for the New Church, especially those regarding the beautiful, unique, and complimentary qualities of men and women, those that teach about who the Lord is (an all-powerful, never angry, constantly loving, and ever-knowing God), and the merciful and hopeful gift that is the steps of repentance. Annina finds the idea of spiritual Correspondences fascinating, and tries to use what she has learned about them in her design work.

8 thoughts on “Real Life…(when I grow up)

  1. Thank you Annina! This is just beautiful and I really needed to hear this today. Love you!

  2. Thank you for your insights and for pointing to those passages in the Word. I need to be constantly reminded that life is now. Thank you for being my reminder today.

  3. I’ve been thinking of how lots of people talk about wanting to make the world a “better place”–a fantastic goal, but actually quite vague. There is a focus (and femininity) to the goal of making the world more “beautiful” that I find quite appealing. Thanks Annina

  4. Wow…. Yes, yes indeed. Thank you for sharing Miss Rumphius’ story with us, Annina, and sending out that tender shoot of truth, once again, that “all is as it should be”! It’s just so heart-warming to remember that the Lord has us all under His wing, that really things ARE leading toward an end which is good,… and, as I’m sitting here near an open window, hearing the birds making their various noises in the trees below, that ‘all which is external to man and available to him for use is a secondary end in creation’ — that a heaven from mankind is the very purpose of the creation of the universe! It’s all part of the plan; these bits are at once incidental and critical elements. {My mind is beginning to melt… I’d better stop there!}

    -What this does also remind me of is the fun saying we have (with our family plans having been thwarted!), that “We make plans and God laughs.” 😀 I envision the Lord up there, smiling down on us, chuckling; “Ahh, My children,….” What a Dear.

    Thanks again. 🙂

  5. The thing is, I haven’t done many of the things I imagined as a child, but I have done many as well, and in addition, I’ve been blessed with so many more I couldn’t in any way have imagined!
    So many lupines. All different colours.

  6. This is beautiful, Annina, and close to my heart! I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately as my life has reached the “dream” I’d always imagined–marriage and children. And yet even though this is everything I most deeply wanted, I can still spend so much time feeling like I’m waiting. Waiting until the next child, waiting until we settle somewhere permanently, waiting for life to live itself for me and to require no effort? Waiting for it to FEEL like I’m living the dream. And there are times when it does! Definitely. And in the times when it doesn’t, reminding myself to pause and realise that I AM living the dream right now and that it’s real, and that while not perfect, I can choose to recognise what is good and choose to trust the Lord that it will continue to be good, and that maybe the best things will be the things that come in ways I didn’t plan or expect.

    You articulated it much better, but thank you for giving words to this big and challenging and beautiful idea!

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