We are losing our marbles – don’t miss it!
We are losing our marbles. I am losing my marbles, and you are losing yours.
A few years ago, I gave my husband a giant jar filled with 832 marbles for Father’s Day. He thought I was crazy and extremely cheap. Yes, I was cheap, but I made up for it in the time spent counting out 832 marbles. I do not recommend this – thankfully for you, there’s an app for that now!
Then I explained that each marble in the jar represented how many Sundays we had before our youngest left for college. Doing the math was pretty eye opening for me. I started realizing how fleeting time is.
I eagerly shared with my husband how each Sunday we would remove one marble, so that we could visually see how much time we had left. He thought this was incredibly depressing. I, on the other hand, hoped this jar of marbles would remind us not take a single day for granted and help keep our eyes on our long-term vision for our children.
This time counts. Every second of it matters. We had better not miss it!
When I think about my little one waving goodbye as he heads off to college, my eyes fill with tears, and I feel fear set in. I get anxious at the thought of this limited time we have, wondering if I’m doing enough. What am I doing today to ensure that our kids flee the nest with a solid foundation?
The impact of this time we have with our children under our roof is greater than anything you or I can imagine. (No pressure, right?) This time is so important in fact, that we are commanded to take the responsibility of raising our children in the faith seriously, as commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
I know that in order for our children to have true joy and success, there is only one thing I need to offer them: Jesus. When I think about that 18-year-old grown up son, I pray that he will know and love the Lord. I pray that he will be a young man of integrity who knows who he is in Christ. I pray that he will allow himself to be led by the Spirit and will live a life pleasing to God.
As far as that giant jar of marbles goes, I regret to say that life got in the way. We got busy. Maybe it was a symptom of denial, but we quickly stopped reflecting on this jar. Now it sits in the corner of our dining room collecting dust.
The other day while picking up around the house, I caught a glimpse of that jar. I began to wonder, how many marbles do I have left now?
After doing the math, we are now down to 572 marbles. Somehow, in my neglect of the jar, we “lost” 260 marbles. Failing to remove them from the jar didn’t mean that 260 Sundays had not passed. As any guilty mother does, I began to ponder what I had done with those 260 Sundays or weeks.
What did I do that will have an eternal impact on my children?
I’m busy. I’m really good at keeping busy. But the reality is that I can’t put off making an impression on my children or teaching them today, because I only have 572 marbles left. That’s 572 Sundays before the training wheels come off and the period of time where I have the greatest influence over my children ends.
As a parent, I encourage you to count your marbles. Savor them. Somehow in the business of raising children, we forget how much the little things matter. It’s the little investments we make over time that have the greatest impact.
If you’re like me, and you’re “losing your marbles”, here are just a few tips for making the time you have with your children count.
Start with you. We can only lead someone in the direction we ourselves are going. Take time to invest in your own relationship with God. Kids will model what they see, not what they hear.
Have a long-term vision. It’s not enough to focus on the next phase of your child’s development. Go big! We are raising kids for 30, not 13. Start with your vision and then do some “back-casting” to develop a few things that you want to make sure you do often over time to help foster that vision. For example, I want my children to find a church home on their campus when they head off for school, therefore I need to make church attendance a priority now.
Prioritize what matters and schedule it. Life is all about choices. There are so many choices we must make as parents. Know your priorities before that opportunity comes along, or that decision needs to be made. A Family Mission Statement is a great place to start, so that you can filter anything that comes your way through the lens of your family’s priorities. Does it align? If not, you may be getting off track.
There are so many days when I just pinch myself when I think of the enormity of the awesome responsibility of being called mom or dad. I pray that each of us will rise to the challenge and shepherd our children in such a way that our faith will be handed down from generation to generation.
This time counts. Don’t miss it.
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