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This past weekend my oldest child turned 16.
Honestly, I never thought this day could come. The early years were slow as molasses. The good kind of slow. The kind of slow that makes you think it will always be like this and it is just a wonderful little life.
Then, they grow older and taller and bigger.
The older they get the quicker the time goes. Middle school is a flash. High school is a half of a flash. [am I right moms of older kids?]
As I watched my man-child blow out his candles, a lump formed in my throat. Tears started to swell. Memories of his first Winnie the Pooh birthday flooded my heart.
How could this Winnie the Pooh loving baby be 16 years old?
I quickly gathered myself before the last line of Happy Birthday. The last thing I wanted was for this party to be a sob fest about ME.
I turned those tears into prayers of thankfulness to God. Thankful that we still had him to celebrate birthdays. Thankful that he is learning and growing still.
Before the party, I gathered up all of his scrap books and memorabilia. **Note to self: do not do this again right before a big gathering. especially if mascara has already been applied.
Looking at those pages brought me straight back to those moments. Sweet moments. Hard moments. Laughing moments. Crying moments.
As I turned the pages, I saw pictures of me in some of the photos. I am growing older too. It's not just the kids that are growing, it is us parents too.
Growth is good.
I would not trade my 42 years of life under my belt for a younger age. Truly, I would not.
Change is certainly hard, but I believe life gets sweeter along the way. Some would argue with me. I understand.
However, it has been my experience that my heart has softened along the way. I see things from a different view now. I'm not near as hard on myself. Or on others. I let things go a lot quicker. Forgiving has become much easier. Humility is easier to come by too because I have learned that I really am nothing without Jesus.
Growing up is not so bad.
My favorite part of growing up is taking littles under my wing and nurturing them to grow and thrive. I love little people. I love little things.
Getting the chance to take care of, feed, water, and nourish little people is the greatest gift in the world....whether I gave birth to them or not. It really doesn't matter. They all need love and cherishing.
As I kissed my newly turned 16 year old goodnight, I realized something. He would always be mine. No matter his age, no matter his location. He was mine.
I thought about God. How He must love us. How He must cherish us, His children.
No matter where we go, how far we wander...
We belong to Him. We are engraved on the palms of His Hands. [Isaiah 49:16}
As a momma, I get this. Oh, how I see God's love for us so much more clearly.
My children will always be mine. Engraved on my heart. Memories etched in stone in my soul.
Nothing can change this. Not time, not distance..
Wanting them to stay little and turn back time is depriving them and me of growth.
A tree is most nourishing when it is full grown. When its branches spread out wide providing shade for others. When the fruit it bears is ripe and sweet for others to taste and see.
They will be called mighty oaks, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
I pray this scripture over my children. Lord, let them be mighty oaks. Deep roots and far reaching branches.
We must water them though. Nurture them. Prepare them for full growth.
That is our job. And, what an honor it is.