When I was seventeen years old my mom took me across the border to get a tattoo.
We lived in Wisconsin, where even with parental consent, a minor could not get “inked”. My mother, trusting my decision after I had given it good thought over a year’s time, and even had a “practice” henna tattoo on my arm for some time, took me to Illinois to give consent. I remember the excitement of that day, and the heaviness of my mom’s trust in me as I approached adulthood. Not once have I regretted that tattoo.
I thought of that day last summer, as I took my sister-in-law to a tattoo parlor so we could get matching ear piercings. Nerves danced as she called her mom, a thousand miles away, to give verbal consent to the body piercer. We were in and out with tender ears and sanitizing soap in less than an hour. That hour was a highlight of our summer together. It was not at all lost on me that her parents had given us a great gift. Their last child and only daughter after four sons was months shy of turning eighteen, and they trusted us with a handful of those final weeks. They had 936 weeks raising this sweet girl, and they were gifting us with twelve of them.
After Erika returned home, on the week of her eighteenth birthday, my mother-in-law shared a photo of a single penny in a jar. Jars just like it, only with many more pennies, sit on my own mantle. They begin with nine hundred and thirty six pennies.Week by week we take one out, and move it over to a new jar, the “invested” jar. The first jar falls shorter and shorter of pennies, while the second jar builds up, a visual reminder of the legacy and story we are building into. Along with that very last penny, my mother-in-law shared:
“Did we do it right? She is the last of 5, but being the last it really hits home. We can do no more, either they were raised right or not, it doesn’t help the anxiety I feel. Thankfully, God is faithful! And I trust Him to take what we did and make it right, make it flourish, make it amazing, where we could not.”
I questioned myself often throughout those twelve weeks. I had never been responsible for a teenager before. Did I word that right? Should we have that conversation? Should I have let her go out that late? Are those friends trustworthy?
Many of you with teenagers nod your head and smile, these conversations circling at regular intervals in your tired minds.
I’m thankful for the practice of investing last pennies. Years from now, my husband and I will begin investing our own final pennies. We’ll do it four times over a period of seven years, until those jars are all invested.
And just as my mother-in-law worded it so beautifully, I pray that we can “trust Him to take what we did and make it right, make it flourish, make it amazing, where we could not.”
I pray we are doing that right now, with our jars not even half spent. In the words we say, and the words we choose to hold back. In the opportunities we grasp and make the most of. In the moments we pause to connect with their little hearts. In the special, unexpected memories we create along the way. I pray we’re making it matter today. Because a collection of Todays makes those jars what they will be in eighteen years.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
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