I Didn’t Know That Then

I was married with a toddler when my single 20-something BFF from college, Diane, handed me a list. Now, Di is a funny girl. She has a dry sense of humor, a sharp wit, and she quotes the best movie lines at the exact right time. So as she handed me this list—two columns on a yellow legal pad—I thought she was joking when she said, “This is my dream boy.” 

I looked at the list and tried to do the math in my head. (I barely do math on a calculator, so this was quite taxing.) I estimated…oh…40 items on the list? But I only remember three: blonde hair, at least 6 foot 2, will kiss me on the forehead.

I looked from the list to Diane and realized her smile was dreamy, so I decided not to laugh…although we did giggle together at a few of the items as she explained each one. And in the years afterward, every once in a while I’d tease her about “the list” and we’d giggle some more.

Then one day, after Diane quit calling me past midnight to fill me in on her dates (which she apparently thought was more important than sleep to the mom of a toddler and an infant—we still giggle about that, too), Diane called to tell me about her new list. This time only four items were important to her, and the first three were not on the original:

He has to be a spiritual leader.

He has to love me.

He has to be a provider and a protector.

He has to have a good personality.

“But what if he’s not 6 foot 2? What about the blonde hair?” I asked. She laughed and said, “Well, I’d still like it if he’d kiss me on the forehead.”

After Diane revised her list, guess who showed up? Yep. Dream Boy. Aren’t they perfect together?


And after Dream Boy showed up, so did a baby boy and a baby girl. Happily ever after!

(Although I vowed I would call Di after midnight when she had a baby, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it…I was always asleep.)

But what Diane doesn’t realize is while I may have been entertained at her expense, her “list” is priceless to me.

Because I have two daughters…and I don’t want their list to look like mine probably would have if I had made one. Mine wouldn’t have been on a yellow legal pad like Di’s. Mine would have been on a 1×1 post-it note: Is he cute? Did he ask me out?

No, I want my daughters’ lists to look like Diane’s—the real list, the one that has all the important things, and none of the things that really don’t matter.

So I did two things.

First, I talked to my girls. Not when they were 16 and allowed to date. Not when they were 12 and looking hard at boys. I started talking when they were little.

Disney movies were great conversation starters. My girls loved the princesses, but we talked about the their need to be royally “rescued.” And the Prince Charmings? We talked about their qualities that weren’t so charming and the qualities they lacked. And from there the conversations and lists have grown over the years. And the lists have become the measure my girls compare their future princes against (and this mom is praying it works).

Out of curiosity, I texted Kelli at college last night and asked for her list. Here’s what she texted back: have a heart for God, respectful, funny, compassionate.

I have Diane to thank for that. When she started her list nearly twenty years ago, neither of us realized she was shaping my daughters’ hearts.

And here’s the second thing I did. I started praying for the little boys somewhere in the world that God had picked for my daughters. I prayed that God would raise them up to be men who love Jesus and who will love my daughters as much as I do. 

It’s fun to pray for a little boy…whoever he is…and him not knowing he is the center of some little girl’s mama’s prayers. When he was little I imagined him playing with a Tonka truck in the dirt or swinging a t-ball bat or saying his bedtime prayers.

But now it’s really fun, because sometimes Randi and Kelli bring a boy home. And I look at the boy sideways. And when he catches me looking at him sideways, I just smile and make him wonder even more why I’m looking at him sideways. But I don’t tell him what I’m thinking: “Are you the little boy I’ve been praying for your whole life?”

We start praying for our babies before we even have them. When we’re trying to become parents, we pray to see the + on the stick or for the adoption process to speed up. We pray as the baby grows inside us, or grows somewhere away from us as we wait for him to come home. Then we pray our babies will sleep through the night, and the first time they do, we wake up and fear grips our heart as we rush into the baby’s room praying everything is okay.

So why not start praying for the little babies who will one day marry our little babies? It’s not too soon.

And why not talk with our children about the qualities that should be on their lists…rather than let society make the list for them? Because when new love interests start to blossom, the list empowers you to ask an important question: “Which qualities on your list does he have?” If I have concerns, I’ve learned I don’t have to say much. The list does the talking.

As my girls mature I’m sure their lists will evolve. And I’ll check in every so often to make sure items like “loves cats” or “will take me on shopping sprees” don’t sneak their way into the important things.

But there is one quality I think I’ll suggest Kelli and Randi add to their lists: will kiss me on the forehead. I kinda like that one.


The MOM Journey News

Announcing the April give-way: the Corinthians bangle from TRADES OF HOPE

Trades of Hope empowers women out of poverty in 16 countries by selling jewelry and other items they create. When one woman rises out of poverty, she brings four others with her. (I bet most are children!) The Corinthians bangle is made by women artisans in Moradabad, India. “Love is patient, Love is kind” is inscribed in English on one side of the bracelet and in the language of the artisan on the other side. Because of Trades of Hope, moms in Moradabad can afford to send their children to school (education is not free) and combat the primary cause of poverty in India–lack of education. Check out Trades of Hope and help a mom bless her babies! Representative Carrie Tripp.

To enter the give-away, sign up to follow The MOM Journey by email. If you already follow The MOM Journey…you’re in! During the month of April, every time you share a post on Facebook or Twitter (tag me @karensargent_87) or comment about a post below, I’ll enter your name again! Drawing is April 30!




  1. Glenna says:

    Shared this on my page. Love your posts!

  2. Ron Bratton says:

    Great post Karen.

  3. Renee says:

    I never thought about praying for my future daughter in law.Now I’ll make sure to add that one.

  4. Samantha Savage says:

    I’m completely in love with your blog! You’re right, it’s never too early to start praying for your babies and their future husbands/wives! It’s special and heart warming to know that our children and their future spouses can come into the world being loved and prayed over, long before they were even thought of.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for loving the blog and for sharing your response to this post! So grateful you’re on the journey!

  5. Carrie says:

    I have always prayed for the individuals God is preparing to be my children’s spouses. It was just natural. Sometimes I would find myself imagining what their life was like at each stage of life, yet knowing God is in control trumps all.

    Thanks for helping women, and yes, their children out of poverty!

  6. Sandy says:

    Another great blog. I have often thought and prayed about all these things. In this world we live in today we have to stay on our knees. I’ve been blessed so far with my son and new daughter-in-law or as some put it (daughter-in-love) Hollie is a true Godly young woman and was raised in a Godly home. So keep praying God will answer those prayers and bring the right one. Now to continue to pray for our daughter and that special young man for her. Karen thank you for sharing your heart with us all. I look forward to each of them. 🙂

  7. LM says:

    Great suggestions- praying specifically for the future Godly husband that will be the man my daughters need to grow in love and faith with. I have prayed over the years and will continue to be more specific in my prayers about what type of men will choose to love the 2 of the most precious things in this world to me!!

  8. Kristen says:

    I love this!!! And, from the Mama of 2 boys, I pray for their spouses often. I try to remember, not only am I raising my sons, I’m raising someone’s husband and father. We have had several talks about spouse qualities, but you encourage that conversation to continue!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Kristen…and everyone…thanks so much for reading and commenting! This was a fun post to write, and I appreciate your comments not only because they encourage me but because your words encourage others on the journey!

  9. Ella says:

    Great job! I love reading your posts.

  10. Heather D says:

    This was a beautiful and inspiring post Karen! I made my own list when I was in High School….and the Lord blessed me with Jeremiah! He fits all the qualities on my list and more! I know my parents were praying for him for many years before we met. I’m now inspired by you to be praying for the little girls my sons will marry someday! Thank you. Keep sharing your words with all of us!

  11. Sandy Harris says:

    I love reading your posts! Math my not be your strong suit, but you definitely have a talent for writing! 🙂 This post really hit home with me. I’ve unfortunately had many failed relationships. After a bad break up about 5 years ago…..and seeing a counselor to deal with that and some other issues…..I asked “why do I keep picking the wrong guy”. The Christian counselor very lovingly told me that I was falling for anyone who paid attention. He told me I needed to make a LIST of what qualities were truly important to me. He told me that would set a standard of who I wanted in a mate, and the ones I encountered that didn’t “fit” would be easily discounted. He said I needed a non-negotiable list. Things that I was not willing to compromise on. But I could also have a “would like to have” list of not so important qualities. So I prayed about the kind of man that God wanted me to have. I made my list; I prayed over my list; and I stuck my list in my Bible on the page of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I continued to pray about the person that God had out there somewhere for me, and there were times that I prayed that if God intended for me to be alone, then to make me okay with that too…….since it seemed like it was taking Him a while to answer my prayer…..lol God heard me, and He answered my prayer. He answered it in a greater way than I could ever possibly imagine. The man He placed in my life met everything on the non-negotiable list and the “would like to have” list. I so wish someone had told me years ago to make my list. It would’ve saved me from a lot of pain and heartache. I also wish I had instilled that knowledge in my children when they were small and been praying for the person that God intended for them. God is so good, and He sure made it worth the wait for my “Mr. Perfect for me”!! I now have that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 kind of love. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    • Karen says:

      Sandy, thank you for sharing your story…and your heart! I’m sure there’s a mom (or more) on this journey who needed to hear your encouraging words! Yay for your Mr. Pefect! (And yay God!)

  12. Andi says:

    Love this! I often pray this for my babies. But also for God to help me raise them to be good spouses. Because maybe there’s a mama somewhere out there praying for MY son right now! And I want to do my part to raise him up to be that man.

    • Karen says:

      Andi, I love how you said you want to do your part if some mom is out there praying for your little boy. What a “partnership” that would be! Kind of like a spiritually pre-arranged marriage!

  13. Heidi says:

    Love, love, love this Karen! Your post are so mind opening and inspirational!

  14. Tera C says:

    Love this! I’ve prayed for my kid’s future spouses, but not nearly enough. This post made me cry. Thank you for sharing your experiences and heart! I have my own dream man who happens to kiss me on my forehead!

    • Karen says:

      I was a little teary, too, when I wrote this! Yay for those forehead kisses! Thanks for being on the journey, Tera!

  15. Aline says:

    As with all the other posts before, I love this post. I am not a mom, yet, nor a soon-to-be mom, but I feel they are more than just for moms. They provide such great thoughts and ideas and really new ways to look at my experiences (past and future). I love this post, I thought about my list and now it’s going to work itself in my head throughout the day, in a good way. It is going to make my relationships so much stronger, not just with my boyfriend, though, but with my friends too. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Aline, I am so grateful you find something in the posts even though you aren’t a mom yet! Thanks for sharing your insight and for being part of journey “community”!

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