Who are these people? you ask. The cast of a new soap or primetime show? They really do look like they could be. Actually, they're the four sons, 1 daughter, and 2 daughters-in-law of Lyn's sister and her husband (Judi and John Troyer.) We always referred to the family as "the J's." John, Judi, Josh, Jonathan, Joanna, Jeremy, and Jeff. (Josh and Jonathan's wives broke the J-cycle.)
Lyn and I remember the Junior J's from infancy, of course. (Josh, the oldest, is a about a year younger than Kristi.) When we lived back east, we were able to interact with the family pretty regularly--especially when we lived in Louisville and they were all in Cincinnati. Since our 1989 move to California, that's not been the case.
Because of the 18+ years of separation, seeing this picture of the 2nd-generation J's and their spouses kinda caught me by surprise. I KNEW they were grown and all, but this picture just seemed to drive the reality of it into my brain. How did they get from "then" to "now?" What catalog of "stuff" has occurred in all of their lives through the intervening years?
I humbly offer my attempt to answer the first of those two questions as a word of encouragement to you who are in the early stages of raising children: Hang in there. It's so worth it.
I know several of you who read this blog. I know that there are probably days that you find it hard to imagine your kids ever making it through all the stages of life to be able to pose for a picture like the J's. I also know what amazing parents you all are. I've seen you in action. You will make it through the course!
One of the perqs of getting to "a certain age" (for a Christian) is the joy of being able to look back on life with gratitude and not regret. Will you make mistakes between now and then? Absolutely. Will you say things--terrible things--to your children when the pressure cooker heats up? Duh! (Haven't you already done that a few times? Many times?) Will you make choices and decisions that will deliver far more hurt than help to your son or daughter? If you don't, then I'll be the first to throw your name in the hopper for Sainthood nominations. After all, we "old guys" and "old gals" made all of those mistakes (and more) with you. Hopefully, you've forgotten or forgiven all of them--or at least learned from them. (But . . . that doesn't exempt you from bringing home the newest and best from "Mistakes-R-Us"-- you know, that awful place that seems to have an outlet in every house, condo, apartment, and tent on the planet. )
So how do we survive all the mistakes with our children? Even the really ugly, hairy, smelly ones? That's where grace comes in. The grace God lavishes upon us. The grace we gave/give our parents and children. The grace our children gave/give to us. The grace that teaches us to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.
As time passes, Grace (the twin sister of Love) will continue to work her mysteries in you.
Thus, when your adult children "pose" for a family picture 10, 15, or 20 years from now, the smiles will be genuine expressions of joy and not temporary facades plastered on their faces for the sake of a phony-photo.
Again, hang in there. Make Grace and Love your best friends. Invite them to dinner often. After all, they carry a lot more clout than Mistakes and Failures (the ugliest of step-sisters).
I mentioned Josh above. Josh and Sonia have already matched John and Judi head-for-head, and they're considering more! Talk about Grace and Love!!
Below is a picture of John and Judi with Josh and Sonia's FIVE children.
- (In the J's picture above, Josh is in the yellow shirt; Sonia is the young woman on the right. Hard to believe she's had five children!
- Joanna is in the middle, and Lara [Jonathan's wife] is on the left. Jonathan is behind her. They're pregnant with their first baby!
- The two outside guys are Jeff [left] and Jeremy [right])
- I wish I could name the boys for you in the picture below...they have great names, but I can't match name to face without my geneology in front of me! :)