Twenty-three years ago (exactly) I faced a challenge of the unknown. It was a stark and dramatic life change. It was a new experience and transformational. Here’s what I wrote back then:

In exactly one week, the Welch home on Oak Street will house for the first time in history… a teenager! Argh! I am shell-shocked. I can’t believe it. He was just a little runt yesterday. I watched that nurse take him from the doctor and whisk him away….to check his breathing. He never has gotten that breathing thing down pat yet. But next week, he’ll be thirteen. Only five years left under our roof. That’s the ominous part!

And today I face another challenge of the unknown. Jeremy and Christine, along with Lindsey and Noah, are becoming parents around the same time over the summer. I’ll be a grandfather. I think my hair will definitely go gray now. But as I contemplated Jeremy turning 13, I also wrote this:

Honestly, I’m really not all that concerned about how we will weather these teenage years. Mind you, I’m not really looking forward to them, but the Lord has helped us so far, so He won’t let us down now. But you all should be a bit relieved – because now I can’t blame you for the explosion of gray behind the pulpit!

But, hey, he’s a great kid. Smart. Usually polite. Usually kind. And underneath that tough pre-teen exterior is a heart that really loves the Lord and wants to do what is right, even if it is difficult. What else could a dad ask for in the last week of childhood. I love you, Jeremy. May your teenage years be years of great spiritual growth!

We don’t get children for very long, so we’d all better do the best we can to see that they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. That’s all that really matters.

So now we begin another adventure with a new generation of children. I don’t have the responsibilities I once did, although I might be better at this time around. But that’s not how these things work. Now I pray for my former teenagers that God will give them the wisdom and the grace and love to raise some kids as good as they were/are. They have great spouses to help. And they are walking with God, which is what they need. My advice? Don’t forget that you don’t get those children for very long, so do all you can to encourage them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. That’s all that really matters. Get that right. And eat dinner together daily.