the Jill Saunders blog

On Tyler! & A God Wink


May 9, 2023

Oh my. Tyler graduates from the University of Wisconsin, Madison this weekend. How can that be? Like my friend described, we may need to strap him to the car rooftop to end his time at Madison, he has loved it there!

Last Saturday morning I was checking my Instagram feed, and saw a post that got me a little worried about my parenting. This post was from a man I’ve gotten to know with a creative project, I don’t know him well. He was sharing how he is raising the bar on raising young men in the world, helping his sons to read more, have an amazing vocabulary, make eye contact, shake hands, have good grooming habits to name a few things. It made me nervous.

The vocabulary call out got me. I thought, does Tyler have a good vocabulary? I did buy him every book he wanted, with hopes reading would help him…but he wasn’t going to learn vocabulary from me! My negative self-talk quickly kicked in, was I ever really intentional about what I was teaching Tyler? What did I really do?

I ran through the list in my head as I grabbed my car keys to head out and grab some caffeine. What did I do to parent: I drove around to find big boxes for him to make box forts, we played a lot of badminton, we learned chess together, I baked lots of cookies for lemonade stands, we rode miles on the bike with the tag along, we collected lots of Thomas the Train engines. I started to think and worry, was it enough? Is he prepared? And his vocabulary, he is writing his med school application personal essay – will it measure up? Will he get in somewhere? Sigh.

Then it happened, I got a sign. At 9am heading east on 54th street towards Kowalski’s, I spotted him. On this gray and cloudy morning, there was a little boy standing on the sidewalk with a big sign that said “Lemonade”, I think he made the sign for me. In that moment, a feeling of peace took over. I knew I did ok, I knew in that moment that Lemonade stands were just as important as vocabulary building. God was winking at me at that moment. How many kids have lemonade stands early rainy, Saturday mornings?

So as I head into this graduation weekend, I celebrate Tyler. All his hard work, his dedication. So grateful for all his friends. On Wisconsin! On Graduates! On Tyler! Let us affirm there is a way forward for all of them filled with love, and possibility, and success. So grateful for him, and for how God winks at me.

With so much love and appreciation for everyone who has been on the journey with us. Thank you! I am in deep gratitude and appreciation for all the people who have touched his life in a meaningful way.



  1. Dane Hartzell says:

    Great post. On Wisconsin!

  2. Molly says:

    Love this post Jill- so true and real. You did Amazing -truly amazing!! I love the lemonade stand God wink. Tyler is a gem with an incredibly bright future-On Tyler!!

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