Growing Up With Our Kids

The brave, humble questions of a fellow Christian blogger have sparked my introspection about parenting and aging gracefully. Bethany has five children and writes about a life and faith that I admire, giving me confidence that she will “enjoy each stage and navigate the changes gracefully.” I only have sons, but since both are grown men and she asked for advice from women with experience in transitioning from mother-to-children to mother-to-adults, I’m collecting my thoughts on what we did right, what I regret, and the role of God’s grace in parenting and aging.

Shortly after I gave birth naturally to our 8 lb 9 oz son (I repeated this 3 1/2 years later), I felt panic rising about not being equipped to handle the challenges that his growing-up-years might present. My husband calmly reassured me that we would “grow up with our kids.”

As we shaped our family life, we followed the pattern of our parents. I stayed at home and he worked hard to provide. We took our kids to church every week, encouraging them to participate in Sunday School and Youth Group and to use their talents in church. They made friends there and we spent time with families who shared our values. As I tell in Wear Out Your Chairs, we ate dinner together, adjusting schedules to do so.

Those external practices laid a solid foundation for them. Sadly, though, during their earliest years, I was rather fearful. We were protective of our kids (car seats, bike helmets, vaccinations, orthodontics, etc.), but I worried about things that were hard to control (accidents, influence of rough kids, lyme disease, failure, heartbreak, evils of the internet, etc. See Many Dangers Toils and Snares.) My faith was based more in what I did than in the love of God for me and my kids. It reminds me of Finding Nemo when Marlin tells Dory that he promised to never let anything happen to Nemo. She responds, “That’s a funny thing to promise…then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun…”

By God’s grace, none of the tragedies I imagined came to pass, but things did happen to them. One swallowed the “little vitamin” (birth control pill) I left on the table. One bone did get broken. Both had college roommate issues. And both have endured a broken heart. They have found, as I have, that tests and trials do make us stronger and more mature just as the Bible teaches.

My husband was right. We did grow with our kids. We became scout leaders for their packs; I volunteered in their classrooms; and we supported them in their pursuits. We did life together. It paid off in close relationships with them. When they set out on their own, I transitioned from stay-at-home mom to stay-at-phone mom, available when they wanted to talk. Early adult years included late night phone calls which their dad took with patience and ended with prayer.

As a mom of boys, I have learned that the role does change as they become men. Just as we did, they need to make important decisions. We are blessed that our advice and example can help. With them living two hours away now, their daily life is out of my sight. That’s not a bad thing. One regret I have about their childhood years is being a bit too protective and treating them as little kids instead of little men. In God’s grace, I became aware of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect message for mothers of sons when I needed to better understand how to communicate my respect for these Good Men.

Father’s Day 2008, the year Eric graduated from college and Kyle graduated from high school.

Looking back over thirty years of parenting, I’m thankful for what our sons have become and for how I have grown. Yes, the nest is empty, but I can truly say that I am content in all circumstances – loving the time we spend together and being joyful even when we are apart. Through the years, my husband has continued to listen to my anxious heart and to invest time in our friendship. True, we are growing older, but we’re doing it together in the strength of our faithful God. We aren’t crazy about some of the physical changes we see, but we try to keep our eyes fixed on what is unseen, because “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

My friend Bethany is anticipating “the wistful sadness of no more little people in the house,” and I have experienced that, especially when looking at old photos. In my case, God spared me some of the emptiness by moving us to a different city and giving me a new hobby to keep me busy. And for a few years, I’ve been investing in other peoples’ kids through visits to first grade classrooms. And, yes, Bethany, we older women are called to teach the younger ones how to love (be friendly to) their husbands and children. God has blessed me with that ministry where I rejoice to see Him working.

The good old days of 1992 when we were living in Minot, ND.

I don’t know what the future holds. I may become a grandmother and get to see my sons be dads. And, I may become a widow as most women do. My anticipated sadness of that could sap the joy right out of this day. So my best advice is to trust in the Lord’s promises to never leave us and to supply us with the grace and strength for each day. My “more experienced” older friends testify that His love never fails.

Read Bethany’s blog at

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Has it really been 6 years since I turned 50?

When I turned 50, my mom held a lovely party for me.  The occasion, in my opinion, warranted a speech from the guest of honor – me!   Here is that speech:

Well, it happened.  I turned 50.  I’ve been anticipating, and more often dreading it for all of 2010.  During the last months, I’ve found myself wondering whether I look like I’m 50.  I’ve noticed other women who are showing a little age and thought that, surely, they must be a couple years older than me!  Now there are a few of you who know that 50 is old, because you haven’t reached it yet.  But some of you are looking back at 50 and thinking that I’ve been silly to worry about turning such a young age.  I know because I’ve laughed at those who dread 30 or 40.

But my thoughts about getting older haven’t all been about the superficial.  I’ve wondered whether I’m getting wiser as I get older.  At times, when I’ve felt immature in some way, I’ve told myself “You’re almost 50!” with the underlying thought “you should know better.”

To my credit, there have been moments when I’ve appreciated each year of my life, remembering that some are taken by death before reaching this milestone.  Life is a gift that should be celebrated!  And I’m so glad that each one of you is here today to celebrate with me.

On Wednesday, while I was anticipating this weekend of celebration, I was informed of two rather shocking events that occurred that day.  A friend called me at noon to tell me that her brother’s mother-in-law had walked out to her mailbox that morning and was struck by a car and killed.  On Wednesday evening, I was asked to pray for a family whose 2 year old daughter had suddenly died.   Naturally, my heart went out to both of the families involved.  But I also thought a bit about that moment when life on earth ends.  Sometimes it comes way too early.  Sometimes it seems to take too long.  None of us knows when it will be, and none of us can add an hour to our lives by worrying about it.

I have a good friend, who is quite a bit older than me.  I’ve mentioned my birthday to her several times, and of course, she doesn’t think 50 is old.  When she turned 65 this year, she realized that in another 15 years, she may not be here.  So, she decided to make sure that she is living days that count.  She tells me “You’re not old.  Your age doesn’t matter.  What matters is how you are living your life.”

The truth is I may not be here in 15 years.  I may reach four or five more milestone birthdays, or this could be my last one.  I’m OK with that.  Life is a wonderful adventure, and there are many things I look forward to in the years to come.  The two unexpected deaths that came on Wednesday remind me that my life could end suddenly.  But, death has lost its sting.  I have been assured by Jesus that I have already crossed over from death to life.

I have another dear friend who I’m tempted to call my “oldest” friend.  She’s not really the oldest, but has been my friend for the longest time.  We’re lifelong friends, but we don’t get to see each other very often.  Sometimes she writes me a note to tell me what’s going on in her life.  She then blesses me by telling me what my friendship means to her and reminds me that we will have all of eternity to be together.

Thank you for celebrating life with me today.  I’m not going to take a poll to see whether you think I look like I’m 50 or not.  I do plan on focusing on making my days and years count.  And, hopefully, I’ve shared a little wisdom.


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