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September 30, 2008

468 Marbles

About a year ago, when Jack (my oldest) turned nine years old, I began to realize how quickly he was growing up. It seemed unbelievable that he might be out of my house and on his own in another nine years (I left home for college when I turned 18.) and that his time with me at home could be halfway over. That thought gave me a “reality check” about the priorities in my life.

I began to consider that we needed to have Jack skillfully prepare to face adulthood and had few years left in which to do this. One of my personal challenges is that I have a hard time weighing the immediacy of the moment with the quiet demands of really important long-term issues. Somewhere last year, I read about a man who transferred marbles from one jar to another to represent some segment of time. So I bought two jars and 468 marbles to help me conceptualize that I had only 468 weeks left until Jack turned 18.

Every Saturday since then, I have conducted my own “private” marble ceremony where I moved one marble from the full marble jar to the other marble jar. This weekly ceremony has helped me to stay focused on the quiet urgency of the biblical mandate to train up my children. It also helps in making decisions about accepting travelling engagements and new responsibilities that would take me away from my home responsibilities.

I now have about 400 marbles left before Jack turns 18. 68 marbles are gone and can never be recovered. As I live, I often ask, “Is it worth a marble?”

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