They call me their favorite mom-friend and I take it as a great compliment. Each one of those girls holds a unique and special place in my heart. Each one has impacted me in ways they will never fully understand. Each one has challenged me and given me both a hope and a dream for what my daughter could someday look like.
In a world that tells you teenagers are selfish and obnoxious, these girls are proving that the world is wrong. They are smart and funny and sensitive and sweet. They are aware of the world around them and possess maturity beyond their years. Come to think of it, most of the teenagers at our old church possess these qualities. It is why we had such an amazing body of believers. Because where there are amazing teenagers, there are more often than not amazing parents standing behind them.
This was a parting dessert. I wanted to gather the four of them together at one time, and in one place, to tell them just how much they meant to me and just how proud I was of them. I fumbled with my words. I’m better with a keyboard than I am in person. I’m all awkward and Gen X that way…
You don’t find young people like these four girls often. They are kind, considerate, thoughtful, sweet, witty, smart and they are all drop dead gorgeous on the inside and the out. One of the four asked if she could go to China for her sixteenth birthday so that she could serve little ones in an orphanage. And she did it. The others have served in Haiti, in Mexico and in downtown St. Louis. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
These girls have impacted my life by giving me the encouragement I needed on the hard days of parenting. Because I know their parents. I know that the Cheesecake Factory girls are merely a product of God’s grace and firm, loving parenting. And the three couples who parented these four girls are some of the people we most dearly miss. They are the three couples who were at the top of the list of reasons we should not move away.
It’s not that these are abnormal teenagers by any stretch of the imagination. We spent a portion of our evening at the Cheesecake Factory looking for the hunky Australian waiter who worked there. We never found him, unfortunately. But in the looking, I fell in love with the Cheesecake Factory girls even more.
They are regular teenage girls who exhibit grace in extraordinary ways. The Cheesecake Factory girls are a picture of true beauty.
When the world says that teenagers are out of control, I always remember the Cheesecake Factory girls and I take heart. There is hope for me and there is hope for those of you who are currently in the trenches of raising young children.
Why do people say these elementary years are the easy part of parenting? Because they’re not! They are fun years and I am going to miss the young years desperately, but they are not easy. These are the years when all the battles must be won. These years of childhood are the years when it’s the hardest.
If we win the battles now, what delight awaits us! We will raise our own Cheesecake Factory girls…and boys. Teenagers that are fun and delightful and a joy to spend time with. The fun years await us if we’re willing to fight the fight right now. Join with me as we battle for the deepest parts of the souls of our children, won’t you?
This weekend I am thankful for grace, for godly examples and for the Cheesecake Factory girls.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12