OneweekoldSixteen years ago when I met her face to face, I thought she was one of the most amazing creatures I’d ever met.

Not much has changed in the 140,000+ hours since.

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Before I had children, I had a chance encounter with a stranger at a wedding; I don’t even remember if we were married yet ourselves.  She was a 30-something mother, and fate placed us side by side.  She shared a few stories about her children over dinner, and while the catered meal left no impression, her words seared their own. 

Her young children had done something generous and considerate for someone else; I was impressed.  I’m not sure my exact words to her, but inside I thought, "Now that’s success as a parent…if we could raise our own children to put others first, to regard them so highly, it would be a job well done."  Something to that effect, anyway.

I’m convinced this "chance encounter" was a divine appoint- ment; that ideal found its way into my own parenting "philosophy". 

I can’t imagine a mom or dad who wouldn’t agree that parenting is the hardest job they’ll ever have; an approach that works well with one child is most likely ineffective for the others.  Teaching, modeling, coaching, and praying for your kids necessarily takes on a chameleon’s skin as you adapt your "techniques" to glove individual personality and disposition.

And when all that is said and done?  Your kids are pretty much going to be who they’re going to be…without much help from you.  You can’t assume all blame for their failures and inadequacies any more than you can take full credit for their successes and natural God-given giftings.

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There’s a hair-thin line between a mother’s pride and annoying arrogance; I don’t want to cross the threshold to the dark side.  I want to see my children–for that matter, all people within my sphere–honestly and clearly.  It’s important to recognize their strengths, to cultivate and nurture them, to help them to see what is so obvious to others; to help mature those tendencies that will serve them well into adulthood.   A focus sighted too often on their shortcomings is a death-pit of quicksand, pulling them under, and in effect, suffocating them.  That trap, I’d rather like to avoid, too.

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A new school year, milestone birthdays–these are the things that render me contemplative and reflective.  If you’d allow me a mother’s indulgence, I’d love to share some snapshots of my children; how they’re growing up, how they’re shaping ME. 


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