Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3 (NIV)
Sometimes we forget what precious gifts God has given us. It’s not that we don’t treasure them, it’s that we get busy and they sometimes get shoved to the side.
I was reminded of that several years ago when my pastor dedicated a baby at church one Sunday morning. As the parents turned to leave the platform with their tiny baby, Rev. Sexton said, “Don’t forget you have just 18 summers. Take time to make some memories.”
The poignancy of those words slammed into me. My husband and I had determined early on that we would make spending time with our children a priority. We’d done that to the best of our ability, but now we were at the end of our summers with our children still at home, and our youngest son was getting married a few weeks later. We knew how quickly those years had zoomed by.
The minute I heard those words from my pastor, I knew God wanted me to do something with them. From that has come a parenting blog, a novel, a screenplay and documentary project (we’re still working to raise the funding for these), and numerous radio, television, and speaking opportunities.
But most importantly from those words, there’s come a rallying cry for parents to slow down and enjoy the precious moments that God’s given to them. When I do speaking engagements, I often take three jars filled with 18 stones each. I call parents up from the audience and hand each of them a jar. Then I tell them to remove one stone for each summer that has already gone by with their children. By the time they finish doing that, tears are in their eyes because it really hits home that those are summers they can’t do over, and the pile of stones still in their jars—their allotted summers—are dwindling away.
That “just 18 summers” phrase isn’t to make parents sad or to make them feel guilty—it’s a gentle wake-up call to squeeze the moments with their children—to remember that they are one of the most precious gifts that God has given them. To remember that they only have a few short seasons to instill character and values and to raise their children for the Lord.
And that leads to an important question for you: How many summers do YOU have left—and what are you going to do with them?
Father, help me to savor each precious moment you’ve given me with my children.
Michelle Cox is a bestselling author and speaker. The eBook version of her Just 18 Summers novel is available for the entire month of June for only $.99. Visit the Just 18 Summers parenting blog at www.Just18Summers.com, and connect with Michelle at GodGlimpses.com, www.Facebook.com/MichelleCoxInspirations, and on Twitter @MichelleInspire.