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The Two Most Important Tools of Parenting

For many months I've wrestled with the Lord about writing. I write in my journal, I love taking notes for meetings, at conferences and in church, plus I still prefer to send written letters for birthdays and holidays. Yet this new tug on my heart was different...the things I'm feeling called to share are the more vulnerable moments and insights gained for being in the trenches. By nature, I am an open person and find it easy to share my life with friends and new acquaintances alike over a cup of coffee. To me, blog posting feels foreign, distant and impersonal since the public forum and online presentation limit our connection. My desire in these posts is to be real - to share the victories and challenges that arise from following God, learning to love well, and extending the gift of family to those who need it most. We are each called to grow in faith, love without limits and demonstrate the healing power of safety, security and identity that come from being part of a family.

Our existing Difference Makers Blog highlights powerful stories of ordinary people making a difference for kids and families while encouraging others to do the same. These simple snapshots into people's lives can have a lasting impact. The life I'm living certainly looks and feels different than I could ever have imagined. While our journey is and has been full of difficulties, extended waits, and situations where hope was slim, the wisdom and spiritual growth I'm gaining along the way was not just meant for is a gift to pass on to you as well. Faith walks begin with baby steps, so my introduction to blogging will be the same. For this first post, I'm thrilled to have special permission to share the following devotional on parenting with you from Charles Swindoll. May it inspire us all to invest intentional time with our kids each day and demonstrate the power of healthy touch!

Take It Easy

"My words are dedicated to all of you who have the opportunity to make an investment in a growing child so that he or she might someday be whole and healthy, secure and mature. Granted, yours is a tough job. Relentless and least for now. There is every temptation to escape the responsibilities that are yours and yours alone. But nobody is better qualified to shape the thinking, to answer the questions, to assist during the struggles, to calm the fears, to administer the discipline, to know the innermost heart, or to love and affirm the life of your offspring (or adopted children) than you.

When it comes to "training up the child in the way he should go," you've got the inside lane, Mom and Dad. No teacher or coach, neighbor or friend, no grandparent or sibling, counselor or minister will have the influence on your kid that you are having. So-take it easy! Remember (as Anne Ortlund puts it) "children are wet cement." They take the shape of your mold. They're learning even when you don't think they're watching. And those little guys and gals are plenty smart. They hear tone as well as terms. They read looks as well as books. They figure out motives, even those you think you can hide. They are not fooled, not in the long haul.

The two most important tools of parenting are time and touch. Believe me, both are essential. If you and I hope to release from our nest fairly capable and relatively stable people who can soar and make it on their own, we'll need to pay the price of saying no to many of our own wants and needs in order to interact with our young and we'll have to keep breaking down the distance that only naturally forms as our little people grow up.

Time and touch. Nothing new, I realize, yet both remain irreducible minimums when it comes to good parenting. Take it easy! Listen to your boy or girl, look them in the eye, put your arms around them, hug them close, tell them how valuable they are. Don't hold back. Take the time to do it. Reach. Touch."

***Taken from The Finishing Touch by Charles R. Swindoll Copyright © 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.


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