Back to my desk

For the first time in 21 years, neither one of our daughters are going back-to-school. Both are college graduates. Both are making inroads on the job market. Both are strong, lively, caring young women. But there’s no “Back-to-School” this year. It’s now “Back-to-Something-Else”!

From their public school days, I don’t miss the homework assignments that the student does not understand. I don’t miss the “creative” book report assignments. I sure as hell don’t miss the group projects. (And I suspect my daughters would agree!)

There’s plenty of appointments on my calendar. But there’s no dorm room to fill. No sweaty elevators or staircases. No jaunt to buy desk supplies or refills for the printer. No awkward good-byes (and tears by Mom in the car on the way home). 

I gotta tell ya, it feels a little weird. 

Ok, a lot weird. But in a good kind of way. 

Now our years now fall into the natural seasons of Creation. The year doesn’t reboot in September every year. Instead, each new day is a new start. 

I’ve put a new practice back in my life called The Daily Examen. You can use the website or an app (scroll to the bottom for the links). You can write out your own questions for daily reflection. It doesn’t matter how as long as you do it. 

When the house is quiet in the evening, I pause and do a mental reset. I wait. Sometimes I worry. I pray. Sometimes, I rage. But always, I feel re-engaged and ready for sleep. 

So whatever your fall season brings, I invite you to embrace it. With questions. With honest reflection. With integrity. And then with action. 

Back to my roots


Old Man’s Cave trail, Hocking Hills, Ohio


 A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these, she said, is roots, the other, wings.

Quoted by Hodding Carter in “Where Main Street Meets the River”

We had our annual family reunion last week. It was full of pun-offs, adventures, and close living quarters. We feasted on fresh Carolina peaches, sweet corn and brick oven pizza.

A bodaciously awesome pizza, if I do say so myself!

I realized as I listened to the laughter and conversation swirling around the dinner table that our stories are entwined in so many ways. We share history as well as DNA. We share losses and joys. We fight to the death to keep the essential, clarifying, and off-debated Oxford comma. (See what I did there?)

We shared peaceful views at sunset. Hiking at childhood haunts. Competitive card games. And hugs. Lots of hugs.

Sunset at poolside.

The genealogists in the family (my mom being the most experienced) will share interesting bits of family trivia. Through years of research, Mom, (as well as my Dad and maternal grandmother) have uncovered when a specific ancestor emigrated to the US, what wars  they fought in, how they worshipped, and where they homesteaded. The ancestral “fan chart” is impressive with the names and dates going back to ten generations!

Ancestral Fan-Chart created by my grandmother, Lura Morrow Hickox

For my daughters, I wish for them this same sense of rootedness and belonging. A place to be accepted and encircled with love. A reminder that they are loved and prayed for daily. A retreat from the world when its suckiness seems to out-weigh the promises of the future. A secure take-off. A safe landing zone. And enough love in their buckets to spill out into the world around them.

Our progeny: The Johnnie and The Gardener

It’s something I wish for all…  Not a wall. Not belligerence and hate. Not ridicule and judgmental scorn.

It’s really quite simple:

Roots. Belonging. Acceptance. Love.

The true mark of someone who loves God is one that demonstrates their rootedness in the Divine. And the fruit that grows from it.

Jesus said:

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Matthew 7:16-20 (NLT)

FRIDAY FIVE: Fast and Furious Cuisine

I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGals. Play along if you’d like!

kitchen tools

I know RevGals is not a cooking blog. But, I also know that we clergy balance multiple tasks, roles and responsibilities. And many of us want to keep eating healthy and serving with stronger, healthier bodies. At the same time, unless you are living with a personal sous chef, you’re throwing dinner together in between afternoon office hours and evening meetings, sometimes with a little homework and soccer practice thrown in the mix. So, for this week’s Friday Five, tell us:

1) What’s your tried-and-true recipe for picky eaters?

Well, to be really honest, back in the day it was either ramen noodles (I’d add chicken bits) or nuclear orange macaroni and cheese. Eventually I stopped making a “kid meal” and an “adult meal” and the default food was always peanut butter sandwiches. It took a while, but eventually they learned to try and like just about all the food groups (which are chocolate, pasta, butter and bread… hahaha) They grew up to now eat a wide variety of foods… so really, it’s small potatoes.

2) Breakfast for dinner: totally cheating or a lifesaver? Discuss.

Pancakes and bacon make an AMAZING dinner! No discussion.

3) Go-to casserole for potlucks, new parents or your family’s favorite?

Probably I would do my BBQ meatballs because they can sit in the crockpot for a few hours while I finish up the rest of the dinner (a salad, fresh bread and some kind of dessert, usually chocolate.)

4) Favorite take-out place, preferably with a drive-through? (Let’s be real!)

Right now I’d say is an Indian restaurant. I love their Chicken Korma Kashmiri. Little bits of fruit with a zingy sauce over the chicken and rice with saffron. MMMmmmmm…

5) ‘Fess up! What’s your “bad-for-me-but-super-easy” dinner?

Steaks on the grill, bag of salad and potatoes in the microwave. Seasonable vegetables when we have them.

BONUS: RANDOM!! REVGALS version of “CHOPPED” episode, starring you, the tired, harried, cook and pastor who has to feed everyone and get back to church for a meeting in 45 minutes… What would you make with: 
a can of garbanzo beans, chicken breasts, radicchio, sweet bell peppers and some “Testa-mints”?

Watching CHOPPED is a hobby. Mindless, fun, and I actually learn something. I learned most of all that I don’t want to compete on it. WAY above my skill level. I might quality for “Worst Cooks in America” though.

Honestly, I’d like to do a pasta dish, but if Scott Conant is judging, then I can’t make pasta. So I think I’d create a garlic and garbanzo puree, chicken breasts sautéed in an Italian seasoning mix of some kind, make a hot salad by grilling the radicchio with the peppers and make a vinaigrette with the Testa-mints.

Dear Mrs. Hall: We need to chat

Hey friends…
I don’t usually get involved in these “my thoughts on your post” kind of things. But since I happen to have two lovely young adult daughters, I kinda took this post personally. You may disagree with me… but I wanted to share my heart on this.

Dear Mrs. Hall:

I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Friends of mine with young sons posted the link to your blog post. I read it. Said, “huh, well I think she’s wrong. To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to, let’s move on.”

Except that friends have been posting it all day and cheering you on. And I said, “Huh. Well, I get that moms want their boys to make good decisions. And to help them make good decisions, sometimes they get a little over-protective. Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to. Whatevs.”

But then it continued to bother me, and I figured out why. I realized that I was a little put off by your post chastising young women for their social media pictures. The photos you described were ones that you discovered while you looked at their social media accounts — something you do regularly with your kids — perusing the pictures and videos that are posted by their friends online. You noted:

“We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your pajamas this summer! Your bedrooms are so cute! Our eight-year-old daughter brought this to our attention, because with three older brothers who have rooms that smell like stinky cheese, she notices girly details like that.

I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.

I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout.”

Ah yes. Duck lips, I believe we call it. But really – going braless was an issue? Was it because you could see her nipples? Maybe she needs a thicker bra. Or a warmer room. Sultry poses? Goofing off and being silly, perhaps? Are you sure she was trying to be a siren and cause your sons to crash on the rocks?

One of the standards that you mentioned in your blog post was this:

Girls shouldn’t post pictures in poses which are provocative.

That’s fair. But what is “provocative” might I ask? I think it is in the eye of the beholder. You put up a picture of your four, lovely children in their bathing suits. The young men’s suits were all below their navels. Well below their navels. In fact, you could see their tan lines. Isn’t that a little too sexy for a post on purity? And they were making “muscle” poses – yes, in fun. I get that. However, based on the blog comments, I wasn’t alone in thinking that perhaps you missed the point that what is “sexaaay” for the goose is “sexaaaay” for the gander.

You said,

“Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it? You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?”

Do you think the picture of your boys in their bathing suits will just be deleted from their female schoolmates’ minds? That once they walk into school in their uniforms or their Tshirts and jeans, that they won’t remember pictures from this summer? And for the record, I think this is a bit over-stated. What I think you are suggesting that only males are titillated by the visual. I would suggest that you are wrong. If not, then why would females spend so much time pouring over pictures in magazines? Why do they notice when someone is hawt?

You don’t give room for teens and young adults to grow up.

There’s no room for grace. Jeff VanVonderen in his book Families Where Grace is the Place talks about the need for learning the difference between our job and God’s job. He says,

“God’s job is to fix and to change. Our job is to depend, serve, and equip. This is the work of grace… God and you can build anew with the people you love, relationships that let in fresh air and light.”

He goes on to talk about premarital sex, which I think is what you are worried about by your hard and fast rules…

“When a teenager becomes involved in premarital sex, is it just because of raging hormones? Is it simply a matter of ignoring the rules? Or could it be an attempt to feel loved and accepted, important, or not alone? I think so. …They need to be reminded that they are unconditionally loved.”

You wrote:

And so, in our house, there are no second chances, ladies. If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent. If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.

I see. In doing so, you remove any possibility of being able to speak into these young women’s lives. You put them in the category of “forbidden secret.” You mark them as “undesirable” or as “forbidden fruit.”

Do you not remember your own teen years? Forbidding something does not mean that it is going to make it go away. Just because your children can’t see these photos or videos on their devices, those which you deem objectionable, doesn’t mean they can’t see them on their friend’s computers/smart phones.

If your children are friends with these young women, I would assume that you could possibly live in the same general area as their parents. Have you talked to their mothers? Have you sent them an email? Have you called them? While many parents do not have a social media review as your family does on a regular basis, there is something about parenting “in the village” that is very, very helpful. If you are pro-active instead of re-active, you can offer more than one chance.

It may be that you have been rejected for being “too strict” but by making things so iron-clad, you have shut down what could be an ongoing, healthy conversation.

You state that “We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.”

Iron-clad, no-exceptions means that if someone grows and changes, you won’t know. You won’t be around to encourage them, to remind them. You won’t be among the trusted women who can talk frankly with them about their wardrobe choices.

You are obsessing on the exterior and are not giving your sons practice at living with integrity.

They will be heading to college soon. Very soon. Sooner than you can possibly imagine. Even if they go to the most restrictive Christian college, there is still temptation and sexual tension. By not helping them wrestle with it — while they are in your home — you are going to set them up for some hard days when they are on their own. Perhaps you are a family who does not send your children away to college. Even if they are on a community college campus, they will meet up with men and women who are very different from the standards they are learning from you. And instead of being comfortable talking to them and gaining an understanding, you have a hard wall of NO.

Life does not work this way.

Even if you clean out every objectionable image in their social media files, the world has many more staring them down. I used to take my children through the “no candy, no tabloids” aisle at the grocery store when I checked out. And then I discovered that the magazines (non-tabloids) had low-cut, sexily-posed models on the front. I realized how low-cut when one daughter said, “Mommy, is that a nursing top?”

The images of misused sexuality are everywhere. To teach our children good judgement and a “strong moral compass,” we have to teach them to first see the men and women around them as human beings who are sexual, not sexual beings who are human. You can’t do that if you try to install electronic blinders on them.

What is the best way to encourage the personal character of our teens and young adults?

Is it by judging them? Ignoring them? Refusing them entry into our Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Instagram lives? I don’t think so. You’re removing yourself from the conversation.

Here’s what I would love for you to reinforce to my daughters, actually to any mother’s daughters:

You are made in the image of God. You were created to make a difference. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are bright and caring and have much to offer this world. You are more than the clothes you wear or the make-up you put on your face. You are more than a test score, a percentile or an athletic achievement. The number of pounds on the scale mean nothing. You are loved by your parents, but even more by God. Go chase down the dreams you have on your heart. And don’t let comments about your outside make you think there’s nothing inside.

One last thought. Talk to your sons about outward images and inner self-control. Make them own their sexuality and their choices. Do not blame or suggest that any mistakes they make are because of how the women around them dress themselves. Teach them that clothing is not a “message” — it is a cultural trapping. It is not an “invitation” to do anything other than respect and respond in accordance with their own personal guidelines. This is a shared responsibility. One that young men AND women should take seriously.

I’m glad we had this little chat. To be honest, I almost didn’t post this essay. After all, it is easy enough to just roll my eyes and move on. I’m not even ‘outraged’ or ‘mad’. I am frankly a little sad. Because you are missing an opportunity to become a mentor and surrogate mom to young men and women who would otherwise never cross your path. And they are missing out on getting to know you and to understand your point of view.



ADDENDUM: Friday, September 6, 2013:

Mrs. Hall took out all of the pictures of her boys on the beach (really) because of comments from readers and bloggers. So you can disregard my comments about boy tan-lines etc. But the rest I still hold as true…

Here’s her comment on her blog update and changed photographs:

“Readers, two days ago I wrote this post for my normal audience, which is usually very small. That said, I included recent pictures of my kids at the beach, and many new readers found that to be a grave lack of discernment, considering the topic.  I agree, and have replaced them with different photos than the original post. Thank you for your counsel.”

Always is what you miss…

Beverly Beckham said it well:

I wasn’t wrong about their leaving. My husband kept telling me I was. That it wasn’t the end of the world when first one child, then another , and then the last packed their bags and left for college.

But it was the end of something. “Can you pick me up, Mom?” “What’s for dinner?” “What do you think?”

I was the sun and they were the planets. And there was life on those planets, whirling, non stop plans and parties and friends coming and going, and ideas and dreams and the phone ringing and doors slamming.

And I got to beam down on them. To watch. To glow.

And then they were gone, one after the other.

“They’ll be back,” my husband said. And he was right. They came back. But he was wrong, too, because they came back for intervals — not for always, not planets anymore, making their predictable orbits, but unpredictable, like shooting stars.

Always is what you miss…

…Saying goodbye to your children and their childhood is much harder than all the pithy sayings make it seem. Because that’s what going to college is. It’s goodbye.

It’s not a death. And it’s not a tragedy.

But it’s not nothing, either.

To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts.

To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

The drive home alone without them is the worst. And the first few days. But then it gets better. The kids call, come home, bring their friends, fill the house with their energy again.

Life does go on.

“Can you give me a ride to the mall?” “Mom, make him stop!” I don’t miss this part of parenting, playing chauffeur and referee. But I miss them, still, all these years later, the children they were, at the dinner table, beside me on the couch, talking on the phone, sleeping in their rooms, safe, home, mine.


I am so proud of our daughters. They are bright, shining, competent and caring. They are trying new skills, new languages, new responsibilties. We cheer them on from the sidelines in this move from “parenting” to “coaching.” They are indeed missed — but they are where they need to be. It’s where we have prayed them to be for all these years. And instead of me being the “sun” I know that GOD smiles down on them, cherishing them, guiding them and always, always watching over them.

Thanks be to God.

— See the complete column by Beverly Beckham at

Roots and Wings

The here, the now and the individual have always been the special concern of the saint, the artist, the poet and — from time immemorial — the woman. In the small circle of the home she has never quite forgotten the particular uniqueness of each member of the family; the spontaneity of now; the vividness of here. This is the basic substance of life. These are the individual elements that form the bigger entities like mass, future, world. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea.

The car is packed! Time to go! 🙂

Tuesday morning’s op-ed piece by Michael Gerson was a fitting start to my day. Like him, we are sending off our younger daughter to college this week. As in, this morning.

She is now moved into her dorm room, getting to know her roomie, and starting to self-navigate all that college will bring her in the way of fun and challenges. The time has flown too fast, and yet has also taken forever. (And that perspective mutates according to which one of us is ready for more/less freedom. I do remember. I was a young adult… once… a long time ago!)

However, I’m not in suffering mode. We are celebrating Reedy Girl’s hard work and her readiness for what’s ahead. She’s more than ready to go; (she was packed by Monday afternoon!) So today is a milestone, a day to remember.

Many years ago, when her older sister was starting kindergarten, there was a short meeting for parents (mostly moms) with the elementary school principal, the amazing Mrs. Shirley. She told us that though we didn’t believe it, the years would fly by. Our days of helping with projects for school, of buying hiliters, paper, pencils and markers would end. There would be no “homework folder” to check, no concert to attend, no forms to fill out. It didn’t seem possible, and if we understood what she was saying, it was only intellectually. Then she quoted Hodding Carter’s wisdom:

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.” ― W. Hodding Carter


When she shared this advice with us, Mrs. Shirley’s children were in college. She knew what was coming. And that we might not be ready, when the time came for the “wings” stage.

We would stop planning carpools, playdates and soccer mom duties, and step back as our middle schoolers and high schoolers made their own plans. The time would come to watch them fly. When she talked about roots and wings, we all nodded, sagely, maturely, knowingly.

As if.

In the fast lane glance in the rearview mirror, I can see all that our daughters have learned, experienced and achieved. I can see where I would wish to have done a better job as a parent. But we all muddled through, and we still love each other! It is remarkable, really. And over in a flash. I think the roots we have offered them are strong and stable (eh – there’s knots and twists to be sure.) It’s time to see them fly!

So today I celebrate Reedy Girl’s journey and all of the wonderful experiences she will have ahead. I’m smiling at the new ventures her sister is on as she enters the workforce. I’m putting down a marker of sorts, thanking God for this lifetime job of parenting.

The journey changes. The challenges come and go. But roots and wings… there it is. And the screen isn’t blurry at all as I type this. Nope. Not at all. (Where’s my tissues?)

“Child-Free” again. Sort of.

This post was originally written for Viewpoint at Christian Feminism Today. It is published here with their permission and encouragement.

Lauren Sandler’s article in TIME magazine caught my attention. [“The Child-Free Life: When having it all means not having children,” 8/12/2013] In about two weeks, my husband and I will be “child-free” for the first time in 22+ years. Sort of.

Our lovely daughters
Our lovely daughters

One daughter has graduated from St. John’s College and one heads off to Annapolis for her freshman year this month. Our house will be emptier, our lives less busy, and our calendar much freer.

More than one person has asked, “What WILL you do with all that free time?” And then we all laugh. Because we are far too capable of filling up evenings and weekends with “other” things. My on call schedule, Bearded Brewer’s projects, gardening and home maintenance, and church… yeah. I’d say we will stay out of mischief.

Friends who still have children in public school are slaves to the calendar of teacher workdays and school closings. We could take that trip to Sanibel in October and enjoy the empty beaches, or a camping trip in early May before school lets out. These are enticing prospects, and I can relate to those who are “child-free” by choice and who revel in their ability to just pick up and GO.

The article, however, touches a nerve for friends, and even a few of my siblings, who have chosen not to have children. They are viewed as selfish, or immature or even decadent. Why reproductive choices continue to be a flash-point in our society is beyond me. But some folks apparently feel the need to comment or criticize if someone does not produce offspring, have them too soon, too late, too few or too many. It’s really NOT a matter of public debate.

This change has been coming for a long time. And it’s about time.

Sandler notes the trend in women ages 40-44 who have chosen to be childless. (Sadly, there are no statistics listed for men with the same choice. But that’s another topic.) According to her article, in 1976, 1 in 10 women of that age bracket were childless. In 2010, it had dropped to 1 in 5. I don’t see it as being a problem. In fact, I see it as a good idea! And even a biblical one.

Though limited in number, there ARE examples of women in Scripture who had titles other than “mother of ___________.” They were judges, prophetesses, midwives (heh), and Bible teachers. Some were even evangelists and apostles. Producing the fruit of the womb is not the only task God has given to women over the centuries.

Economically, legally and socially, women are no longer restricted to beings wives and mothers. They run countries and businesses and own property, instead of being property. They pay taxes, defend our freedoms and keep our streets safe. They would rather slay their own dragons, thankyouverymuch, than find a knight to do it for them. This is progress.

Having children may be a natural biological function, but nurturing them is NOT a natural psychological one.
Some people don’t want to have their own children. Given the freedom to choose a life and a child-bearing status of one’s own preference, couples and singles today are finding that they do not want to have offspring, by birth or adoption. They have found a way through the norms to choices which a century ago would have been rare, if not unthinkable. They. Don’t. Want. Children.

Many women feel like they “have” to get married and have children. It’s portrayed as something women just DO if they are ____________ (godly, mature, you pick the adjective). Women are SUPPOSED to be married and have babies. It’s held up as a Divine Order. But it’s really more of a Calling, and it isn’t for every woman. More than one mother has confided in me that they “didn’t like kids very much” and yet… here they are on the playground watching their children. They feel guilty and have a severe case of “the shoulds” because this whole butt-wiping, snotty-nose patrol thing is just not their cuppa.

So it’s really OK if a woman chooses not to have her own offspring. She is no less female, no less feminine based on her choices.

Being female does not mean you want to work with children.
And, yes, it can take a while to figure out that this is not for you. After a degree in education and teaching music, I realized I didn’t really want to do that for the rest of my life. No thanks. Those who DO teach — I salute you. You have invested a considerable amount of time and expertise in our children, and I am grateful.

Hello Church. I’m looking at you. Let’s stop assuming that all women want to help with children’s programs. Invite men AND women to participate. I have helped out here and there over the years, but I chose support roles that did not require my spending time with small children when I was home with my own all week. Even now that mine are older, I decline. Courteously. 🙂

Being an adult does not mean you want to always be around other people’s children.
We have all been on the flight where a child was not the best behaved example of humanity. (Ahem. And with adults too, from time to time.) Public transportation is one arena that we all learn to grin and bear it. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to be helpful to a stressed out family.

But families can try to be considerate. For instance, couples without children have been complaining — and asking for other venues to have child-free zones and hours. Huff-Post reported that La Fisheria in Houston now limits guests to those 9 and up from 7-10 pm each evening. I find that a little extreme, but I can see how a four-year-old needs to be home in bed, not eating dinner at 9 pm. When the kid across the street starts shooting hoops at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, I’m not grace-filled in my thoughts, that’s for sure. Consideration on the part of parents is key — what would be fair to expect if the situation were reversed?

When they have the time and the inclination, childless adults are — simply — the sprinkles on the triple-decker ice cream cone of life for kids.
Childless adults have been amazing role models to our daughters. They are entrepreneurs, investors, physicians, health care workers and professors. They are engaging, encouraging and a lot of fun to be around (for the whole family.) They bring a new kind of love and mentoring as “not-parents”. Who but our friend Carol could convince Reedy Girl to stuff those six remaining green beans in her mouth all at once — just so that she wouldn’t miss out on ice cream? Who but Bridget had the time to indulge The Johnnie in riding lessons when she was in her horse-crazy phase – and did it for free? Who but their amazing aunts mailed surprise packages with THE BEST books, American Girl doll clothes, and made them feel loved and special? Or filled them with ice cream from Sonic and their favorite kinds of candy or pizza… just because. (We did our best not to make them into free babysitters, either. They were our friends and family, and we welcomed them at our table and in our home. And that’s pretty wonderful — for all of us.)

There are other really good reasons why men AND women choose not to have children.
And it really isn’t any of our business. But — in case you can’t get your head around it, consider that…

  • It may be an awareness that we share an over-populated, under-resourced world.
  • It may be that they want to change the world through their life’s work, and so they have chosen a trail-blazing career instead of parenting.
  • It could be that they can’t conceive or can’t afford to adopt. (Let’s face it – adoption is lauded as a great idea, but we give little-to-no financial support to those who try that route.)
  • It may be that family needs and finances dictate they invest their nurturing in others.
  • And it may be that, really and truly, they don’t want to be responsible for raising children. As one friend commented to me, “I can’t keep goldfish alive. Why would I decide to have children?”

So… back to our being “child-free” soon…

I’m a realist. Just because our daughters are moving into their own lives and plans doesn’t mean we won’t make time for them, or be available when they need us. More than once, I moved back home in between college and grad school, summer jobs and new careers. There was room. There was love. There was storage for furniture, books and clothes. There was help when I needed it with finances and planning, and even loading the UHaul. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, by the way.)

I’m grateful that I’m married and that we have two wonderful daughters. I wouldn’t trade a single year of our parenting journey and family life for any amount of money. I’m not a perfect parent, but I love being one. But I don’t hold it up as a prescription for anyone else. Nor do I feel it validates adulthood, maturity, femininity or biblical life choices.

Let’s give it a rest, shall we? Life’s too short. Love the people that are your life — however you find them. That will make a world of difference.