Don't Miss It
I am not the best verbal communicator. I need written words to guide me (I’m a writer!). When I speak in public (mostly at church), I use notecards. I don’t read from them; it drives me crazy when people do this. But I do use them to remind me what words to say and in what order to say them. If I don’t have some sort of guide, I end up speaking incoherently. It’s ugly, friends. I’ll keep the notes handy!
There are two groups of people I love to speak to the most. My favorite group is kids. They are much more forgiving when I stutter and excessively say “um…” but truly, I just love to teach young minds about the bible. There is so much jam-packed in the good book and, quite honestly, I want to be on the front-line helping kids discover it.
The second group I love to speak to is parents. My background in family ministry gets me all sorts of jazzy about investing into parents and equipping them to be spiritual leaders in their home. My friends and I can be the best teachers in the universe and it would pale in comparison to the influence parents have day in and day out. I want to help parents leverage that influence.
Recently, I had the honor of speaking at the baby dedication event for our church. Even though I have spoken at this event before, I typically find myself preparing in new ways. I always get so excited to talk about the different stages parents will walk their kids through and how precious and fleeting time is.
I know from experience.
I have two granddaughters. How can my oldest be old enough to have his own kids? And my middle? He landed his first big boy job a year ago and recently got married. I squeal with delight as I tell you they are both adulting!! There was a time when I didn’t think this was possible.
The world of parenting isn’t over for me yet. I still have one at home. My youngest is eleven and he often makes enough noise to make up for his brothers being away. But, honestly, after he is all tucked into bed and sleeping like a baby, I still wrestle with the quiet as I finish out my day.
I look at my youngest with leaky eyes every now and then (probably more often than my emotionless self would like to admit). I’m happy because I know he is safe and growing and learning and loving life just the way his older brothers did. I am happy that my two older boys turned out okay, giving me hope that I also won’t screw up too badly with the last. But I am sad because I know there will be a day when I have no more room to influence him. Just like with his brothers, I must trust that everything I did to raise him – the lessons, the chores, the chats, the laughter, the tears, the prayers, the devotions, the bible studies, the serving – all impacted his life for good. I must trust that I instilled values in him. That he is kind and generous. That he doesn’t get involved with evil. That he loves well. That he learns to pursue wisdom and never stops seeking the face of God. I must hope he will remember the words I spoke – and the words I didn’t speak.
Parenting is tough. There are hills and valleys for sure. There are a lot of weeks between the time a child is born and the time they head off to college. But those weeks can’t be wasted. Not even one of them. There is too much at stake. A child’s heart and eternity are nothing to take lightly. We can’t procrastinate here.
My church uses the marble analogy to help parents remember to take advantage of the time they have left. Parents are encouraged to fill a jar with marbles – one for each week they have with their child from now until they are 18. I have 380 weeks left with Gavin, so I would fill the jar with 380 marbles. Each week, I would take one out to help me see that from the moment my child was born, the marbles start rolling. 380 weeks still sounds like a whole lot of weeks, but in what seems to be an instant, I will look at my jar and see that it is simply an empty jar.
That day is a hard day.
When I speak with parents at the baby dedication event, I hope to communicate well enough to convey one simple message:
Don’t miss it.
Every phase of a child’s life is unique. Every phase is critical to their growth and development. As parents, we must keep the end in mind – that day our kids give us a hug and drive away to experience the world in the absence of mama bear. It is scarier for us than it is for them.
Where are you in your parenting journey? Share your favorite moments, your scariest fears, or your deepest desires for your kiddos. Let’s encourage each other on this journey!