It’s amazing how quickly life goes by and how fast we transition from newlyweds, to love birds, to the parents of three amazing little kids (with one on the way!). These years have gone by so fast, and we’re excited to see what God has planned for the future.

But who could have prepared us for the world of parenthood? Pretty much no one. This transition opened up an entire universe, one which we never knew existed.

New rules, new standards, and in fact… a new you.  Our lives have changed so much over the past 10 years of parenthood— and with that change has come a lot of sacrifice.  

Sacrifice and blessings

Some days you look around at the mess, the laundry, the chaos, and the noise and all you can think about is the sacrifice. 

My advice is this: Remember that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. When the losses seem large, recall to mind all that you’ve gained. This attitude of gratitude makes all the difference as we raise our children to the glory of God.

We’ve lost some things now that we’re parents— and it’s important to acknowledge those losses— but we have gained so much more: 

When the losses seem large, recall to mind all that you’ve gained. This attitude of gratitude makes all the difference as we raise our children to the glory of God.

1. Sleep 

Let me put it this way: no one told me I had to be an early bird in order to put in an application for parenthood. Well, now it’s a little too late. 

My husband and I love us some sleep. I look back fondly on memories of Sunday mornings pre-children, sleeping in until 10:45 am and still catching our 11 am church service. No joke.

I can’t remember the last time I saw 10 am on my alarm clock. And on sick nights, newborn nights, teething nights… I see a lot of other numbers on that clock (2 am, 4 am, 6 am).

We’ve lost many hours of sleep over the past ten years, but we’ve gained so much joy. 

The mornings are a fun time for our family. Our precious little kids greet us with the biggest smiles— they’re always so excited to start a new day. We can learn a lot about what it means to savor life through the eyes of our children.

For this, I wouldn’t trade anything— not even all the sleep in the world.

2. Freedom 

After our first child arrived, one of the first changes I noticed was the complete lack of freedom. We went from being completely independent to suddenly having a little life completely dependent on us— that definitely comes with some pressure! 

No more late nights out, no more midnight movies, no going out to eat past 7 pm (unless you have a strange love for tantrums and meltdowns).

Our schedule revolves around our children now. If you’re having a backyard party at 2 pm… well, there’s a good chance we can’t make it. It’s nap time and unless you have a strange love for tantrums and meltdowns…

Though our life has been somewhat restricted, we’ve learned to find so much joy in people over events. 

Spending the evening at home with the kids and playing games, doing crafts, or having a dance party— there’s something about that that’s invaluable. We have picnics at home, walk to the park, and have friends come to play. We can’t always go to the fanciest restaurants, but we can have friends over for pizza, ice cream, and games. We can meet at the park and let the kids be kids. 

Some of our most special memories come from moments just like these, spent with the people we love.

Forget freedom— we have each other.

3. Hobbies

It’s really a miracle that I’m even writing right now— and it’s only because the kids are in bed. In different seasons of parenthood, especially those early years, we had to put our hobbies on the backburner. 

I would’ve loved to enroll in cooking classes, go play tennis on a beautiful fall day, sit and read books at a coffee shop. John would’ve loved to play basketball, take up woodworking, and learn to play the drums. 

But you know what? We didn’t have the time for that. 

Beyond our family and careers— and after spending much-needed time with some friends— our time bank is pretty much spent. And our minutes don’t roll over!

We’ve given up many of our hobbies, but we’ve been blessed to find new adventures with our children. I love cooking for my family every day, getting creative with meals and making fun treats. John takes some time out to work with his hands, making things with and for our kids. 

We’ve learned to make do with the time that we have and integrate our hobbies and passions in new ways.

There will be a day to drive to Starbucks, and sit for hours with books once again— but for now, I’m going to enjoy Dr. Seuss, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and All of God’s Critters again, and again, and again, snuggled up with my little ones.

For now, I'm going to enjoy Dr. Seuss, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and All of God's Critters again, and again, and again.

4. Dreams 

You know, lost is a strong word. Our dreams have been transformed, not lost. They’ve been made new. 

I remember the days I longed to travel, to see the world and write about it.  I dreamed of opening a home for troubled teenage girls and pouring into their lives every day. And long before that— I dreamed of playing in the WNBA (yes, this is now absurd to me, too).

The moment I saw the precious faces of my teeny little babies, my dreams began to change. I knew my dreams belonged to them. Now I live to make them smile. I dream about the day they find their purpose, joy, and significance in this world— when they discover who they are in Christ and who He is for them.

My greatest dreams are for them to know that they are loved— more than they can imagine, more than they deserve. For me, there is no greater fulfillment than that.

5. Our view of God 

My experience as a parent has re-defined my perspective of God. 

I was in relationship with Him before and I knew He loved me, but I don’t think I really grasped how fierce and deep that love was. These children have taught me to love in ways I didn’t know were possible. To give of myself in ways I never dreamed I could.  

To know that I serve a God who loves me in such a deep way is breathtaking. He is willing to give everything for me— in fact, He did. His love for me is ferocious. He wants me to live my life in a way that matters. He wants to fill my heart with joy.

John and I find ourselves learning lesson after lesson about God’s love and grace through our daily interactions with our children.  We’ve glimpsed His heart in new ways— and the Father’s love for us is so much greater than we realized.

The joy far outweighs the loss

It’s easy to focus on what we lack rather than on what we have. Some days are disasters and the sacrifices and losses culminate in a crescendo of self-pity. Sometimes I need to intentionally remind myself of the mountain of joy next to the anthill of loss.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me such good gifts. Thank you for your patience and grace toward parents like me.