The Beauty in Aging

Today is one of those “big” birthdays for a dear friend. She is 30. Another close friend turns 40 this month. A couple just hit 50.  My grandparents each at 90. And my daughter now 16. All significant birthdays. All occassions for celebration, but also reflection, anticipation and sometimes trepidation.

As I’ve visited with a few of these ladies and others, plus thought about my own experience in moving from one decade to the next, I think its interesting to consider why we either become excited or depressed about a new age.

One of the obvious drawbacks is AGING – the physical ailments, limitations, changes and eventually death. But I think with our culture so obsessed with being forever young we forget all the wonderful blessings that come with aging and instead of embracing who we are, we are constantly coming up with new ways to cover up.

Here is some of what the Bible says:

“Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.” Proverbs 16:31

“Wisdom is with the aged,
and understanding in length of days.” Job 12:12

“They (the righteous) still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green…” Psalm 92:14

“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6

“Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.” Deut. 34:7

How beautiful to view aging this way! To esteem wisdom that is gained only through the accumulation of life’s events, trials and tribulations. To consider our days lived for the Lord with great purpose and to still find significance in them. To think though we become physically weaker we are still full of life and bearing fruit. To see our grey and wrinkles as “crowns of glory.”

This is the perspective I hope to hang on to – beauty growing with age, wisdom in weathering the storms.

It actually explains why I would not turn back time to an earlier age. Because even though I am not truly seasoned in life, I still see so much more clearly now things I didn’t a decade ago.  Idols, really, that used to consume or drive me. Fears and worries that occupied too much space in my head. By no means have I graduated from that nor will I until glory, but again how beautiful to think how 10 more years of growth and time will continue changing me.

So to my friends being celebrated this month- Behold the glory of the Lord and let His radiance shine in and through you day by day, year by year.

The Magazine in My Mailbox

I like to read my mail over lunch, just as I like the newspaper with breakfast. But if either arrives past mealtime I typically just throw it on the table to look at or discard later.

This was the case yesterday with the mail, but as I set the stack of catalogs and ValPak coupons on the table something else caught my eye and I froze.IMG_6085

Why was Maxim magazine being delivered to my house?                                                And why did the label have my 13-year-old son’s name on it?

I quickly opened my laptop and entered the subscription number and our zipcode to discover a year’s subscription, started in August with no charge.

No charge? On one hand that eased my mind, on the other it scared me to death. I mean, businessess are in business to make money so the only reason a product would be given away for free is a marketing ploy to pull in new customers.

This meant my son should not be unequivocally accused of ordering this subscription. But the fact savvy marketers have access to so much information to know we have a teenage son in the house is disturbing.

How brilliant to target him at this susceptible age of raging hormones to become addicted now!                                                                                                                How bold to think they have the right to send their unsolicited product!

Even though I immediately canceled this ‘complimentary’ subscription, the sad reality is my son will still see sexually-charged photographs and pornography. It is everywhere and hard to escape.

Scary fact is revenues for the pornography industry at its peak were greater than the combined worth of top technology companies: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink! The latest statistics show revenues have dramatically shrunk. But don’t get excited – the only reason for this is simply all the FREE porn accessible now online.

You can find all sorts of other frightening statistics on various websites. CovenantEyes is where I learned “35% of teen boys say they have viewed porn videos ‘too many times to count'” and that “more than 7 out of 10 teens hide their online behavior from their parents in some way.”

So, parents:

  • Does this mean we cast all blame on the industry?
  • Does this mean we think regulating cell phone and computer usage will keep it out?
  • Does this mean if we’ve warned our kids (it is not just boys viewing porn) about it we’ve done all we can?

No! We can come up with the most rigid of rules and talk about how bad it is and all the negative implications (which are many) until we are blue in the face and still not stop the desire going on in our kids’ hearts. It is only by God’s intervening grace their hearts can be turned from pornographic and sexual temptations.

So what then should we do?

Besides prayer, we must parent to their hearts and not just lay down “law.”  We need to identify with them in their struggles. Help them to see there is no shame in the temptation because God wired us to be exactly as we are, which includes males’ response to sight.

But in our temptations we are weak and that is why we need a Savior. He is the only One who was tempted and without sin.  My child needs to hear that.  My child needs to know I am for him and understand the struggle – even though it’s not my own struggle I know what it is like to struggle. I know what it’s like to be tempted and to give in to sin. And I know that if not by grace I would always give in to sin.

With that foundation my hope and prayer is my child will be more likely to come to me and not hide. That he can come confidently knowing I am not going to condemn him for his struggle, but instead can pray for and with him.

You may think that sounds idealistic, but my take on the reason our children hide their struggles and sin is the same reason we hide our own: we fear being judged and condemned.

Jesus Himself calls us to Come Boldly to His throne of grace. He offers unlimited forgiveness and grace and clothes us in His righteousness. He came not for those who think they are without sin, but for those of us who know we need a Savior. That is the truth I want my son to feast his eyes on!

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Osteen’s happiness god not God


Chances are you’ve seen the Victoria Osteen video clip with Bill Cosby’s cut in response. Her assertion that God’s greatest joy comes when we are happy is causing quite a stir. Such unbiblical claims have led to her being called a heretic, false prophet and like the wolf in sheep’s clothing Jesus himself warned against.

Honestly, it’s about time. In fact, I hope this serves as a wake up call for both believers and our society at large to realize what we often blindly accept as “Christian” teachings simply because it’s delivered in a church, taught or written by a well-known pastor/author with a mega-following.

Why is it we’ve deemed whatever attracts the masses, proves popular and makes us feel good to be good? Is that litmus test or is it God’s Word?

“O foolish Galations! Who has bewitched you?…” Gal. 3:1

The gospel of Christ is not about our happiness!

We sure live though as if happiness is our right and calling, falsly believing our obedience, good deeds and morality should merit God’s blessing. So in the backlash against Osteen (again deservedly so) can we be honest to see how we often live as if we beleive just what she said?

Just consider what happens when you aren’t happy – what does it cause you to do? To feel? To believe?

  • That you deserve better.
  • That life is not fair.
  • That God is not good.
  • That others are to blame.
  • That you need to do whatever it takes to get happy.

Even when whatever you need to do to be happy is contrary to God’s word, you justify it’s okay because God wants you to be happy!

How easily we fall for Satan’s lies.

Just as the crafty serpent whispered to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” we question God’s goodness and truth, determining we know better.  And before you know it we have sized-down the God of the Bible to be who we want Him to be, making ourselves to be our own functional god.

The irony is we will never find true happiness outside of God. The grass will always be greener somewhere else. We will never be totally satisfied or completely filled. We will always be striving, searching, seeking for more… Apart from Him.

Does He promise happiness?

No, He promises MORE! He promises more because our biggest problem is not whether we are happy or not. Our biggest problem is our sin.

God, therefore, in His great love for us meets our greatest need in the perfect person and work of a Savior. God left His own Son to hang on a cross to pay the price of all the sins of His people. We have been set free of the punishment of death we deserve because He took it on Himself. There is no condemnation, only grace. We can come into His presence boldly with no prerequisite or requirement to have it all together. He was perfect for us.

Now even when life gets hard and we experience the weight of suffering and sin, we can find rest in Him. So though happiness may not always be found this He does promise:

  • He will not leave or forsake you.
  • He is near.
  • He understands because He experienced all that we do.
  • He is your rock.
  • He is your strength.
  • He is your comfort.
  • He is your peace.
  • He makes you whole.
  • He is your All in All.


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Because Time Won’t Stand Still

Whew – alot has been happening at the House of Hatton this week. On top of the new routines and busyness the beginning of school brings there are a few other things that have filled our time.

First and foremost, our daughter is finally turning sixteen!!! I say finally because she is so young in her grade it has felt like a long-time coming as she’s watched and waited while all her friends have gotten their licenses. Last year on her birthday I posted 365 Days For My Girl and its hard to believe that time is now!IMG_6036

Mostly I am so excited because I definitely need her to drive herself to all her activities. Many days this summer I requested off from work or switched shifts simply because she had appointments to make and a job and activities to get to. So even if she never runs an errand for me (which she will) or takes her brothers to any of their practices (which she will) I will be a little less bound by time :).

On the flip side – Stop The Clock! Seriously, only two more years and she is gone! I want all the time I can get with her and will miss our car convos. I can’t tell you how often I have been teary in recent weeks thinking about friends whose children have recently gone to college and knowing this is just around the corner for us, too.

But somewhere in the midst of mothering, when kids are younger and it’s physically exhausting, it’s tempting to long for the next stage – for things to be easier and have more “me-time.” In the process though we neglect to be fully present and purposeful in pouring into their hearts and giving our undivided time. I, too, have some regrets in this regard and now that it seems so much clearer just want more time!

Speaking of time, another exciting recent occurrence is directly related to capitalizing on time with our pre-teen and teenagers. In fact, it is the #1 reason we have finally taken the plunge and are putting in a pool! 

Yes, it sounds delightful to sit out by the pool in my own backyard with a magazine.  And for my boys to get home from a hot sweaty football practice and cool off by jumping in.  But more than anything we want kids and our friends to gather at our home.

This is happening!

This is happening!

Whether you’ve thought of it like this or not, a pool provides the opportunity for ministry. A time to hang out with our kids and their friends in an atmosphere conducive to conversations. Likewise, my husband has loved doing “fireside chats” with our daughter and her friends gathered on the back porch around the chimenea, now we will have one more reason to host, seizing the time.

And for the last news of the week – I just received my personal trainer certification!  My most recent idea for re-inventing my “career” – as I tend to do every few years :). This path is being taken primarily to keep my flexible schedule so that I am able to write.

My book release is still a year a way, but I have other Bible studies, book ideas, blogs and grants to write. So in order to keep doing that which I love without a paycheck (yet), I decided to pursue another passion/hobby which is health & wellness. The beauty in this (if I do in fact get hired) is stepping out of my isolating little home office where I write to spend time with people – helping them set and achieve goals, making new friends and again, in a way – ministry.

If you think about it – all of life is ministry. Ministry is not just confined to the church, separate from the rest of life. Nor is it just for pastors – it is for all of us. It means joining in the “dance” as written in my last post Love Does and living your life for the good of others. Investing in more than yourself. 

Because time doesn’t stand still and much of what we are distracted by, consumed with and worried about is fleeting, Lord please help me to invest my time in the eternal: Your Word and Your people!


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Love Does

We were wired for relationships. Intended to revolve our lives around one another. To bear the burdens and be the “body of Christ” to one another. In living out this others-focused calling we refect the image of God as seen in the Trinity in what New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian pastor Tim Keller calls the “divine dance.”

“The life of the Trinity is characterized not by self-centeredness but by mutually self-giving love. When we delight and serve someone else, we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center on the interests and desires of the other. That creates a dance… Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them… ”   (Keller in his book Reason for Marriage)

When we stop dancing we become static and self-absorbed. No longer circling around others but spiraling down the demanding path of “Love Me” instead of what author Bob Goff calls “Love Does.”

thLove Does was one of my favorite books I read this summer. The premise of Love Does is the reality of Jesus’ love for us propelling us outside of ourselves and leading us to enter the “dance” of serving and loving others.  As is written in 1 John 4:19-21:

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Wow – our love of God is seen, not by what we say we believe, but by how we love others. If this is true we must ask ourselves:

  • Do our actions speak louder than words?
  • Do we “dance” around others or do we stay a “wallflower” because we don’t know what to do or say to someone who is in pain?
  • Do we circle around others’ needs or is our own circle confining us to not see who outside of it may be hurting and in need of a friend?
  • Do we pass off the people in our direct path to the professionals (pastors & counselors) thinking they can better handle the problems?

What I hope we all see and Bob Goff shows through the stories in his book is that action is better than no action.

We may not know exactly what to say or do. We may have limited resources and time. We may be inconvienced or forced to make sacrifices. And we may get a little messy in dealing with the suffering or sin of others. But the point is: Do Something! Love Does!

Our action – or inaction – does speak louder than words. Love goes where others will not. Love dances when others have stopped. Love gives graces when others judge or ignore.

Ultimately, Love reached down from the cross. Love set us free of our sins and covered us in righteousness. Love so amazing that when we get it we don’t have to know just what to say or do, but we know the One to point to. The only One who can fill us completely. The One who did for us what we can’t do for ourselves because of His deep, deep love for you.27a72912329e5a5abc8c11898b0f37b4

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When Your Child Hurts

  • Your child’s feelings are hurt after being excluded from a sleepover with friends
  • Your child loses an election, doesn’t make the team or a role in the musical
  • Your child sees on social media what he/she wasn’t a part of
  • Your child makes a mistake costing the team a win and feels the weight on his shoulders
  • Your child is sick and lays limpless in bed

As a parent whatever it is that makes your child hurt, hurts you. In fact, to me this hurt is one of the greatest. We want to control, shield and protect. But sometimes it is all out of our control and there is nothing we can do.


So what do we do?

How can we help our kids cope with hurt, pain and dissappointment? That is the question that consumed my thoughts last night as I tried to go to sleep. And the only thing I got is JESUS.  

  • We say He is enough and that He is all we need, but is He? 
  • In hard situations doesn’t “Jesus is the answer” sound too simple or trite? 
  • When there is real pain and nothing is fixed do we really believe He is all we need? 

This is really where the rubber meets the road in regards to the gospel applying to all of life. If He is all we need and He is the answer and our only hope than He must be the filter through which we shepherd our kids in their hurts. And the filter through which we deal with our own heart and hurts.

So we tell them, for the first time or thousandth time, who Jesus is for them- that He knows what they are going through, that He knows our hurts and that He meets us in the midst of our sadness, struggles and sin. And because He cares for us, not a hair can fall from our head without His ordaining. Nothing is outside of His control. Nothing is beyond His reach. Nothing can separate us from His love.

His opinion is the only one that matters and He is the ultimate resource. The ultimate resource because He understands what it means to be hurt, to be rejected and to be alone. He became like us not just to suffer for us, but with us. Jesus Incarnate experienced everything we do and therefore identifies with us in every way.  

Will our kids still hurt?  


Will we still experience their pain?   


Do we dismiss, then, our hurts as if they shouldn’t be a big deal or effect us?  


But to know and to rest in the One who is FOR us and works in and through all things for the good of those who love Him means I don’t have to have all the answers and I can be okay with things not fixed. I can trust that He will use our hurts to draw us more to Himself. To give us eyes to see outside of ourselves. To make us more compassionate on others who hurt. To reveal our idols and to show us where we fail to believe. To shape and mold us to be transformed more and more in His image and not conformed to the whims of this world.

The gospel never gets old and is always the same story. It is what we need to hear preached weekly and it is what we need to preach to ourselves daily. It is the A to Z of the Christian life and must be the filter through which we view everything. He alone offers true peace, hope and rest… even when we still hurt.


Grace to a Foreigner

Having just returned from Spain I have been reminded of all the ways God gives graces every day. It seems though when we are in our own element we often miss these ways He provides, protects and orders. We go about our routines, thinking we are in control, and give little or no thought to the One who holds us in the palm of His hands.

But feeling helpless in a foreign country, unfamiliar with everything and unable to speak the language, it was oh so very clear how God provides. And also so very clear how our unmet desire for control leaves us anxious and stressed. Praise be to God – He draws near to us even so.

A good summazition of our trip!

A good summazition of our trip!

So much so that I listed in my travel journal all the tangible graces we saw while away as a way to remember again His faithfulness. I share some here in hopes we will all be encouraged to look for these daily graces. And no matter how seemingly small or insignificant I hope seeing them leads us to Him with thanksgiving and praise.

God’s Grace to Foreigners in Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Morocco:

  1. Right off the bat our flight was delayed. Praise God our connecting flight was also delayed or we would’ve lost our whole first day – which happened to be my youngest child’s birthday. 
    We made it just in time for our flight to Madrid.

    We made it just in time for our flight to Madrid.

    Chocolate con Churros for the birthday boy.

    Chocolate con Churros for the birthday boy.

  2. The next morning we went to pick up our rental car and about panicked that our luggage would not fit in the trunk and that it was stick-shift so if anything happened to my husband the rest of us would be stuck!  Praise God our suitcases did fit and though the entire trip was met by stressful driving, bad signs and unending roudabouts we were protected and brought safely back. 

    Back to Madrid in one piece. Good riddance to our little black Leon/"lion".

    Back to Madrid in one piece. Good riddance to our little black Leon/”lion”.

  3. At the time of our first stop in Toledo, Spain we had not yet mastered the parking garage pay stations and mistakenly put our credit card in the slot to discover it only takes cash Euros. Praise God after a couple heart-stopping seconds the machine spit out our main method of payment!

    Happy to be done with the never-ending quest for finding and deailing public parking.

    Happy to be done with the never-ending quest for finding and deailing public parking.

  4. Next on the itinerary – Portugal. With only my Mapquest printouts and no GPS or guarantee we were on the right track, we nearly decided to abandon plans for Portugal. But then the highway sign mentioned in passing by a Toledo museum security officer appeared, confirming we were headed the right way. Praise God the town of Marvao, Portugal that night ended up being one of our very favorite spots of the whole trip and a much needed “oasis” after the long, hot stressful first two days. 

    A view from the enchanting hilltop fortress in Marvao, Portugal.

    A view from the enchanting hilltop fortress in Marvao, Portugal.

  5. Navigating the San Francisco like city of Lisbon is amazing grace in itself. But after not being able to find our hotel and randomly parking just for the sake of not getting ourselves run over we stopped in a shop to ask for help. Praise God we were pointed to a hotel with a name nearly identical directly across the street and the receptionist was able to give us walking directions to ours plus a much needed bathroom!

    Lisbon, the city of seven hills, is truly the San Fran of Europe with the trams, bridge and diversity to go with it.

    Lisbon, the city of seven hills, is truly the San Fran of Europe with the trams, bridge and diversity to go with it.

  6. After all the stress getting into Lisbon we were worried about finding our way out and on to the highway back to Spain. Praise God for the light rain and it being Saturday morning so the streets were much quieter.
  7. The time on our side however was nearly lost when we discovered the parking pay station would not take our larger bills. Needing to make change, we furiously ran out in the empty, shut-down street looking for any passerby. Praise God for the one small open cafe where we were able to buy a coffee, which we desperately needed anyway, and get change. 

    A picture of the typical street scene in Lisbon, Portugal.

    A picture of the typical street scene in Lisbon, Portugal.

  8. Finally thinking we were on our way out we came up on a major traffic jam extending across Lisbon’s big bridge (think Golden Gate Bridge) due to an accident. After 30 minutes of barely inching forward just as we hit the bridge the lanes were cleared and cars flowed freely. Praise God, just in the nick of time, as my husband is totally freaked out by heights and may have had a panic attack if we were stuck indefinitely on it over the river.

    This bridge across the Tagus River leading out of Lisbon.

    This bridge across the Tagus River leading out of Lisbon.

  9. Sevilla, Spain was our next stop and the location for reuniting with good friends living in Spain. Praise God, meeting up with them could not have come at a better time.
    Our kids with our friends' girls in Sevilla, Spain.

    Our kids with our friends’ girls in Sevilla, Spain.

    All the girls ready for the Feria in La Linea, Spain.

    All the girls ready for the Feria in La Linea, Spain.

  10. The wild monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltar are evil. We watched one tear into a lady’s purse almost destroying her passport after biting her arm. Another ran down a lady eating a sandwich and it seemed as if they were going to jump into our friends’ stroller. Praise God they didn’t and we got out of there unscathed.
    Enough said.

    Enough said.

    This is happening! He even bit her!

    This is happening! He even bit her!

  11. For various reasons we felt apprehensive about going down to Morocco. Praise God for the fabulous English-speaking tour guide and the comfortable place we stayed. 

    With our travel guide Aziz outside the Kasbah in Tanger overlooking the Meditteranean Sea.

    With our travel guide Aziz outside the Kasbah in Tanger overlooking the Meditteranean Sea.

  12. After ferrying back to Spain we planned to lunch with our friends in a Spanish beach town before going our separate ways. But the “guys” car and “girls” car got separated from one another with her phone in his car and his phone unbeknowst to the girls uncharged. An hour passed and we worried a wreck had happened. Praise God that was not the case and my son’s iTouch charger fit as the only right cord to recharge the drained phone so when we called again using a stranger’s phone we found each other.

    Lunched in Puerto Banus where $20million + yachts of the wealthiest Europeans lined the dock.

    Lunched in Puerto Banus where $20million + yachts of the wealthiest Europeans lined the dock.

  13. Much anxiety came from driving and parking but we were also worn down from lots of sight-seeing, fast-paced days and the late-night schedules the Spanish keep. Praise God our last few days were met by a nice resort near a Mediterranean beach away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. We were able to sleep well and significantly slow our pace.
    Alicante, Spain

    Alicante, Spain

    Los Arenales Del Sol

    Los Arenales Del Sol

  14. Despite the mishaps, Praise God for the many laughs we shared with each other and the memories of spectacular sights and experiences!

    Marvao, Portugal

    Marvao, Portugal

The more I ponder on these trip snippets and others, the more I am moved to gratitude – amazed by my God who gives graces in abundance all the time, even when they go unnoticed.

Not only that, but in giving abundantly He didn’t even hold back his Son. He gave His greatest gift for our greatest need – the righteous life of our Savior for our sin – changing our status as “foreigner” and the unrest that comes with it to naming us His children with all the blessings of undeserved grace, mercy and peace. 

In front of the Old Bridge in Ronda, Spain.

In front of the Old Bridge in Ronda, Spain.