Little babies are so sweet and cute. To bring one into your family life is a game-changer for sure. Even so, it seems as though the camera lens is often aimed in their direction, as it should be, capturing smiles and funny faces, little fingers and tufts of hair. As Charles Dickens once said, “I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” It is simply amazing.

As they grow into toddlers, we tell and retell all the funny things they say and do, all the faces they make and we double over in laughter. And, we should, because these years are lively and full and bring youth to a mama’s achy bones, because there is never a dull moment.

And so it should continue as our children grow up and enter the next phases: tweens, teens, and young adults. So often I hear people saying awful things about their teenagers or telling me that I won’t be so happy when I get to that stage. I see people almost giving way to the world regarding their behavior: You know how teens can be.

There’s nothing in God’s Word that instructs us to abandon the godly rearing and training of our children just because they are a little older. And if we continue to faithfully bring them up reverencing the things of God, they will be a great blessing not only to us a parents, but to the Kingdom of God.

And as we go with God, He shows us what a joy and treasure our older children are. With my own group of “big kids” there is so much to love and marvel at as their understanding of life continues to unfold. I’ve watched them learn sacrifice. I’ve seen them give of themselves. I’ve been there when they had to grapple with the Truth and rejoiced when they submitted to it. We have been through tough lessons that stretched them, that they can see the value in having learned, and grateful for. Great, great blessings there.

Then there are the day-to-day gifts–helping siblings, academic achievements, sweeping a crumb-laden floor, taking out trash, folding laundry, soooo many hugs, whispered prayers, new skills, hilarious jokes. . .a sweet friendship that deepens as parenting older kids continues.

And of course, there’s still all of the mushy stuff, like I still think their smiles and faces are as cute as ever, I still take tons of pictures of them, still enjoy the sound of their laughter, and I absolutely love that my big kids still call me “Mommy”.

I know I’m just at the start of this teenage journey; my oldest is a few months shy of 14. I have a long way to go. But rather than look ahead to these older years with discouragement, regret or indifference, I will look ahead with joyful expectation.