So much has changed in my life the last 10 years. Our whole existence was our immediate family and our church family. Now we travel so much we seldom see either.
Today was a birthday party for my friend's 3 year old grandson. My prayer partner/friend and I have shared every stage of marriage, raising kids, growing families, growing churches, heartaches and victories. Today we looked on as her grandson turned 3. He is such a gentle giant. In his first 3 years he's lost his grandmother (my dear friend Nona), he's traveled to Haiti with family members on mission trips and has watched his family dynamic change as his grandpa remarried. When I think about how fast the last 3 years have gone, and look around the room at the adults, who used to be my 3 year olds in Sunday School, I am so challenged to make the best of every hour. Carter will be 13 and 23 and 33 before I blink, it seems.
Without days like today I could easily get depressed, but having a man in his mid-20's sit with me and tell me what God is doing in his life, how he has made lifetime decisions this very week, and how the foundation laid when he was one of those little guys in church had impact on these decisions. He talked about heading in the wrong direction for a season, and how thankful he is that God is patient. He's getting a daughter in a few weeks, and wants to be in the right frame of mind for raising a girl. Just knowing I'm someone he can confide in, someone he trusts with this hearfelt conversation is an incredible honor. Love you Mr.
Others of my now "adult church kids" were there introducing me to their babies, some were expecting, little ones were toddling around the room, related, unrelated, all connected by one commonality. Their parents were a part of a community called church, they grew up together. Little do they know, we (the older adults in the room) grew up together too. We were raising kids when we were all learning the ropes of parenting, building a church and searching for purpose, finding our way in this world. Today, watching the families, seeing these kids as parents, encouraging them and honoring them was such a blessing.
Occasionally, I so long for those days. Everyone of these adult kids have either sat on my lap at one time, maybe a bumped knee, or a tragic loss of a stolen toy from one of the other kids, or they've come along side me with serious concerns about issues in their world, classmates, or a time to pray for a situation that had them worried. I loved on them as babies, prayed over them when they started school, held their hands taking them to retreats and seminars, and now they're doing all of this with their own kids.
Hindsight is better ... I know. Looking back , I really wondered if I was having any impact on these kids I had in Sunday School, Children's Church, Youth Group, Girl's Purity Seminars, retreats, camp, conventions ... wow, they are fine young adults, providing for their families, raising adorable children, and so loving and kind - and so close to each other. Their parents were faithful to love God, raise the children with boundaries, and are still loving on their kids and grandkids today.
One of my friends there today is a great-grandma - whoa!! Blink Blink that will be me. I'm not ready for that, but when God is ready it'll be my turn. Sharon you're a trooper for sure, remember "coping skills."
Becky - thank you for including us, we feel like family - because we are.