Font Size » Large | Smallby Hannah Bemis Recently I found myself at the grocery store early in the morning with my three small children, Asher, Nora, and Abel (Nora and Abel are twins). I was optimistically believing God would work a miracle and no crises would occur. We’d gotten home from a long road trip late the night before and badly needed groceries. Hygiene hadn’t been our top priority that morning. No one’s teeth or hair had been brushed, and my two sons were still in their pajamas. None of the kids were wearing shoes. One-year-old Nora was wearing a skirt with no tights underneath. Besides the excellent front view of her diaper this provided for all other shoppers, her outfit also showcased the magic marker masterpiece she had drawn on her legs in the car the night before when my husband and I were too tired to care what the kids were doing so long as they were quiet. The kids were exhausted, crying their way through the store when an elderly couple approached us. The wife, holding her walker in front of her, immediately began talking to Nora, telling her what a pretty girl she was. The husband took on the boys, trying to guess their names, stealing their noses, pulling things out of their ears, and confusing them just enough to distract them from their crying. The couple returned to their shopping only when my children were calmed, telling me again how beautiful my children were (despite the fact that on that morning they looked homeless). This interaction was enough to get me through the rest of the shopping trip, even the part where my oldest son, Asher, had a bathroom emergency right as I was checking out. I had to leave my full cart unmanned, carry my screaming twins inside the bathroom, and let them stand barefoot in a public bathroom in order to help Asher get on the potty, yank Nora’s hand out of the potty, wash all hands, make a mental note to wash all children in a sanitizing bath at home – all while avoiding eye contact with anyone so I wouldn’t have to see their looks of alarm. The gentle, unspoken blessing of the sweet older couple allowed me to swallow my screams in that moment and respond instead with soft-spoken horror, making the best of yet another insane moment with my three “littles.” To those of you whose children are raised – whether you are a new or veteran empty-nester, whether you are retired or still working, whether you are bored or busy – we need you! You are needed in the church, needed in the grocery store, needed in the homes of your children and grandchildren. Seeing you reminds those of us who are still in the trenches of child-rearing that there is life ahead of us, and that the life we are currently living is a blessing and not a curse. Your approval, your blessing – they are life to us. Your ability to look past our mess and see the beauty beneath teaches us to do the same. Your cheesy jokes, gentle words, and chatty observations about the weather take our minds off of how crazy we must look and make us feel human again. You remind us that we are not alone, but are just one part of God’s huge family. Thank you for your humor and wisdom. Thank you for continuing to live a fun and good life, sharing fond memories of the past while continuing to live joyfully in the present. You have so much to give, so many blessings to offer. You are a crucial part of church and family.