Give Me the Gray Hairs

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I’m excited for you to hear from Sara, of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet today!  It is a privilege to have her contributing, and if you take some time to peruse her own blog, you’ll quickly learn why I think so.  Not only does she have a passionate love for the Lord, but He has gifted her with writing for His glory.  I pray you’ll be encouraged and inspired anew in your pursuit of godliness and growth as a mother!


One of the few highlights of our grueling cross-country drive to reach our new Midwestern home was the stint I had to myself in our little Honda. After my mind traced and re-traced my last minute to-do’s and made sure I’d mentally accounted for all the bags that needed to be with us (and not on the moving truck), reality sunk in. We were leaving so much more than 11 years of history in one of America’s most beautiful college towns.

We had friends there — the kind who would show up on your doorstep with a pot of soup when they heard your voice was hoarse on the phone. Men and women who walked beside us during some of life’s darkest hours. We had a handful of people who really knew us … and who let us really know them.

But as my mind danced around all that we were leaving, the prayer that first emerged for what was in store for us next was this: God, give me the gray hairs.

Over the two years of waiting to bring home our children from Ethiopia, a small army of women emerged around me. It takes two hands to count them. They were experienced moms, with wrinkles to show for it. I fondly called them (behind their backs of course J) the “gray hairs.” There were a few mothers of 6+ children and a few with less. Some comfortable in jumpers and others whose hand-me-downs were almost too trendy for me. Their common thread to me was that they carried the wisdom of God about parenting and He used each one of them to bring me an impartation.

For those of us whose mothers are a few states away and who didn’t absorb all they should have about the beautiful parts of their own upbringing (because they were too busy living it), He gives us surrogates for a time.

I developed a practice (unintentionally at first) of seeking out women who had a larger litter behind them. We wanted a big family, so I looked to learn from those doing the same. I eyed women in church, and in grocery stores, with their children beside them, happy and compliant – but with sparkles in their eyes. Children full of life, yet obedient. Clearly confident in their mamma’s love. Infused with Him.  And mother’s whose faces reflected this.

I unashamedly hunted them down. I met them for tea, babysat their children, joined them for dinner. I took advantage of any way I could to get a first-hand glimpse of the vision I was beginning to catch.

I watched Susan’s children one day each week while she taught a class at the home-school co-op. Her daughter Rebecca off-handedly remarked how her four year-old sister, newly adopted, took joy in emptying the upstairs trash each day. My vision was raised for what my children were capable of and they started similar tasks the next week. Lorena brought her 13 year-old daughter to my house to help me pack up my dishes for the move. She jumped in happily. Claire sat with me for many hours over tea and gave me a vision for joyfully obedient children. Then, when we joined her family for dinners, it was as if her life said “yes, Sara, it’s possible!” Joanna and her husband David hosted us for 18 weeks, every Sunday night, and reminded us that children can be held to a high standard within the safe place of love. Her twenty-something daughter all the way down to her six year-old son were living proof; all of them happy to just hang with their family, yet with hearts made for impact.

I could go on and on. What started with a dinner at the Finley home where six children who were of the age to be doing any number of things, crowded around their dinner table and enthusiastically asked us questions about our lives, slowly morphed into a dream for my own family.

God gave me a picture through these women above (and more I don’t have room to mention – including my own mother) that He gives us everything we need, as parents, to raise up children who love Him and love one another. At two, and at twenty-two.

And He reminded me through these women that He picks us up off the floor when we’ve failed miserably (which happens often in my home) and whispers in our ears my mercies are new every morning.

My gray-haired support team didn’t boast perfection, they led me to the Father. The best Parent. He has given me all I need to raise my children in His word and through the gentle touch of the Holy Spirit. The best parenting book I ever read was full of scripture. The Father knows best. But, as with many other things, we have a great gift in the body of believers around us. And this gift has profoundly impacted my parenting.

The ironic thing about all of this is that, as I prayed for those “gray hairs” on my drive to Missouri, I sensed the Lord saying that this season was over. While I will always be a pupil, my lab-work has supplanted my in-class learning. Isn’t that just like God? He pampered me for a period of time with in-the-flesh teachers so He could push me out of the nest. Flying solo this time, but not alone.

The point of this post is to encourage you to ask Him to show you them. Ask Him for the gray hairs. If it’s the season for you to have them, they are a gift. We weren’t meant to mother in a silo. And while I appreciate having peers alongside me, there is something to be said for those who have gone before. Women in their forties, fifties, sixties and seventies who have fruit to show for their labor are worth much more than the cost of the tea you treat them to when you ask them how they did it.

While God can impart vision without using a soul, He created us for relationship. And the vision He has given me for being a mom was birthed in the homes of many others before it was imparted to me.

sarahagerty Sara and her husband, Nate, have two children–Eden and Caleb–and are in the process of adopting two more from Uganda. Sara writes regularly at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet on their adoptions, the Father’s love, prayer, perseverance through pain, and everyday life-as-a-mom anecdotes.
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