Within a few days this week, our house grew noisier, messier, and happier all at once. That’s what happens when two college-age daughters return with all their worldly goods. To be fair, the mess has mostly disappeared (they’ve been in wash/unpack/organize mode). But most of the noise and all of the happiness have remained. I’ve done a lot of thinking in this first year as a pseudo-empty-nester (pseudo only because these two youngest daughters [of the five no-longer-little Piepers] still live here and come home during breaks). And I’ve realized that what I used to take for granted, I now cherish: Buying or making snacks and other food items I know my kids like (the grocery cart looks different when only two of us live here). Letting one of them serve as DJ while I drive (my playlist looks different, too). Having them go to the grocery store or post office (errands take way too much time IMHO). And this one (ohhh, this one): Being able to hug and kiss them whenever I want (I just have to stretch up instead of down to do it). And I wish I had known. I do remember moments when the kids were younger when I would think, “Someday, it won’t be like this,” or even “Hold this moment in your heart.” But I’m not sure I did. I know that often, I was too caught up in the day or the drama or even just pure survival to pay attention to the wonder of these boisterous gifts of grace. To appreciate the extra noise and laughter as signs of real life. To know that the sometimes-hard decisions we made would have long-term positive effects. To find out that who I was as a person and the way I lived my life before my kids mattered much more than whether the house was spotless (never), the dishes done (usually), or the laundry folded (what is this thing you call “fold”?). Other people have said it in all sorts of ways, but if I could go back twenty years or so (My children are 28-18), here are five pieces of advice I’d give myself: Sleep. I know you don’t think so, but you need rest more than you need the dishes put away or the lesson plans tweaked. And the long-term benefits will astound you. Walk.* What you will start in your early forties should be mandatory now. Even just half an hour a day to walk, pray, and think will help more than you know. *Others might substitute run, dance, swim, etc. Focus. Pay more attention to God’s desires for your family and less to what others think. Keep Him as your first,...Read More
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