When I was a teenager, my mom & dad gave me a huge oak "hope chest" that I asked for one birthday. Getting married someday and having a little home of my own was one of my biggest dreams, and something I prayed for. I began buying little things, over time, with money I made working as a secretary for my pastor-dad at the church office & teaching piano and voice lessons to kids at a school. I'd tuck $20 bills away in an envelope, and take trips to Pottery Barn to buy a $10 "Emma" plate here, a sale linen there, hoping to build a collection in preparation for a future home. years passed. Many more years than I anticipated when I untied the pink bow on that cedar-lined chest and dreamily filled it with hope. My seamstress grandma made me linens and quilts, and I continued to fill the box. But my heart wavered at times... 4 years of college, a few stinging, painfully devastating heartbreaks. i moved into & out of 3 dorm rooms and 4 apartments. a friend told me, "Erin, just forget it -- go ahead and use that stuff. You need to furnish your kitchen in your new apartment. Just use the stuff now, it doesn't matter." But I couldn't. Single life was full, fulfilling, big, beautiful, fun, and amazing. but, those things were for something else. A dream, yet unfulfilled. when I watched every friend marry, one by one, and my path led me to move home with Mom and Dad again, I stopped adding things to the chest. It hurt too much, reminded me of the dream yet-unfulfilled. Sometimes, in all honesty, I'd see it sitting across the room and just felt like throwing it all out my bedroom window -- it hurt to see it there, reminding me of the empty dream. I gave it to the Lord but couldn't open it's lid or look at the items now-spilling out of it. And then, a season changed, a dream came true. My much-prayed for man arrived. In 58 days, we'll be married & have that prayed-for home. Today, I opened up the box, laid out the beloved, old (some even now-yellowed) items, and realized: dreams do come true, after all. keep believing in, waiting for, building toward your dreams, beautiful souls, even when it hurts.