Deadlines, Grocery Lines, Laugh Lines
By Michelle Medlock Adams

God Has Given Us a Precious Gift

School was out for the summer, and my girls were pretty excited about it.

Unfortunately, I was on a crazy tight book deadline and knew I wouldn’t be able to give them my undivided attention for a couple of weeks. As I typed away at my desk in the sunroom, Ally ate peanut butter crackers while watching Barney & Friends, and Abby sat on the floor next to my desk, coloring pictures in her new art book. After typing the last word to the chapter I was working on, I noticed Ab, even closer to my desk now.

“What are you drawing?” I asked my artsy 7-year-old.

“Pictures of our family,” she said, still coloring.

“Can I see it?” I asked in my fun Mommy voice.

Abby nodded and showed me her masterpiece. The picture featured Daddy playing a board game with her and Ally but I wasn’t in the picture.

“That’s very good, Ab,” I encouraged. “But where am I?”

Without missing a beat, she flipped the page and said, “There you are, Mommy.”

She had drawn me sitting at my desk, typing at my computer, all by myself.

That’s when it hit me: That’s how she sees me. I was the disconnected parent, on a different page in her life. I immediately shut down my computer, had a good cry, and promised God and my children that I would get my priorities in order. Thankfully, the girls were only 5 and 7 at the time when I got my wakeup call, so I didn’t waste any more precious summers. Now that my girls are 19 and 21, and Jeff and I are empty nesters, I would give anything for just one more summer with my girls.

Maybe that’s why when fellow author and friend Michelle Cox shared with me her idea of “Just 18 Summers,” I teared up as I heard her heart. Her vision for the “Just 18 Summers” brand came about after a baby dedication at her church. As her pastor finished up, he said to the parents, “Don’t forget–you have just 18 summers. Take time to make some memories.” Those words resonated with Cox. She was at the end of her 18 summers with her youngest son and knew how quickly the time had passed, even though she had made an effort as a family to have fun and make memories with all three of her sons.

While Cox first thought “Just 18 Summers” would just be a gift book, she soon discovered that God had much bigger plans. In April, the novel Just 18 Summers, written by Cox and Rene Gutteridge debuted, and has since won the Class Kudos Fiction Book-of-the-Year Award. It’s the first product of many, as Cox is currently developing an entire brand based on the “Just 18 Summers” concept, including: a screenplay, a complete line of books and products, curriculum for churches and music. In addition, Cox felt compelled to start a parenting blog this past January to encourage parents to make the most of those precious moments with their kiddos, as well as crafts and activities to do with your children so you can make the most of those precious moments.

“It’s a gentle wakeup call to remind parents that God has given us this precious gift, and those children will only be under our roofs for such a short time... Take it from a mama whose sons are all grown now, someday you’d give a million dollars to walk down the hall one more time and tuck your children into bed, to kneel down and pray with them, to hear their footsteps and the sound of their laughter filling the house,” Cox shares.

You don’t have to plan an expensive trip to Disney to make memories with your children, according to Cox. Making play dough in the kitchen or creating a giant checkerboard in the backyard will do the trick.

“These don’t have to be big trips or expensive things,” she says. “Sometimes big memories come from the little moments.”

Let’s make the most of those moments this summer and the rest of the year, as well. Because as Cox reminds us, our children won’t be around forever.

Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, with more than 60 books and 1,000 articles for newspapers and magazines to her name. She was won several SELAH Awards (best children’s book and book of the year for God Knows You in 2014 and best children’s book for My Big Book of Prayers in 2012), and her book Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was named a Family Christian Bookstores Premiere Pick in 2006. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.

Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff. They have two college-aged daughters, Abby and Allyson, as well as a small petting zoo. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys cheering on the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies and the LA Kings. Find out more about Michelle at her website.

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Your Comments (9)

Almost highest gift in the the word are salvation in Jesus blood with the HOly Spirit in blessing and quard us and heal and helping us in our weakness to be strong in faith ,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

Michelle, I SO Understand what you are saying!! My 4 kids are all in their twenties now, and I miss those days and all the fun and laughter we had then. We still laugh together, especially when we are all together, but I wish I had those days back, for just a moment. I LOVED the summers together....I was always excited for school to be out! We didn't do anything special........ we just loved being together,which made everyday special! I am very thankful that I didn't need to work outside our home, so I could really enjoy those times. I truly miss those summers, but I also enjoy the grown ups they have become! Growing into adults has really enhanced who they were when they were young,........ fun loving, hilarious, but responsible men and women. I soaked up all those times, because I knew they wouldn't last long......18 summers go by faster than you realize, and I will forever thank God that I realized this when they were young. God Bless you Michelle,.... I can always relate to your writing. I don't have any "grands" yet, but when I do, I will soak up all the time I have with them, too. They truly are all THE most Precious Gifts!

I am right there with you, Aleina. :) I am so enjoying my two college-aged daughters and watching them walk in their callings and go after their dreams. And, I can't wait to help plan their weddings and eventually enjoy "the grands" when they arrive someday...Every age has had its own precious gifts and treasures, and I'm so thankful I realized early on that I needed to slow down and take it all in. We are blessed, Aleina. :) Thanks for reading and commenting. Blessings to you!

You are so right, Michelle! We have to have our priorities in order and for those 18 summers, the kids need to be #1. However, about the time my 18 summers were over with our last child, here came the "grands" and we have a whole new set of precious children to pour into! Can't love any of our children or grands enough, can we? Thanks for your words and your reminder of how writing deadlines are trumped by those 18 summer deadlines! Keep encouraging us all, Michelle and Michelle!

Amen, Linda. I can't wait for "the grands" to be a part of my life. :) Thanks for your sweet comment. Love to you!

Great column, Michelle. Love Michelle Cox's book and concept.

Thank you, sweet friend. :)

Thank you for sharing, Michelle! I am so amazed by how sacrificial my parents were, and my dad tells me a similar story like yours. He had a moment when we were young when he chose his kids over his job, and he's eternally thankful. As you can imagine, so am I.

Aww, thanks for reading and commenting, Caleb. Like your dad, I am so thankful that I had my "wake-up call" when my girls were young. :)There is nothing more precious than spending time with family.