start off. a proverbial poem for parents.

start off with

the only thing more awkward than a classroom full of middle schoolers

is a classroom full of their parents.

knees knocking

under squashed desks

anxious feelings of their own,

ancient and sometimes tragic inadequacies clashing

with the hopeful success and aspirations of their goofy, lanky, gawkish kids.

back to school.

meet the teacher.

who stands before us and says his oldest–a preschooler–started school today, too.


this teacher-parent says,

he knows how we must feel.


he asks

does it ever get better?

do the tears ever separate from the release?

and I shake my head.


the release never gets better.

never an ease about letting a child go.

no matter how big and brawny

solid and sure

he becomes.

all that love

and time

and reddened droplets of fervent prayers

may grow lonely

or transform into

the springtime of another generation

trained up

but never released

from the prayers of those from whom they turn.

 “Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

~Proverbs 22:6~


deeply and ever known

We roamed the beaches of western Michigan this weekend.

Sky, brilliant azure.

Sand, warm and soft between our toes.

Breeze, clearing our lungs and minds from the stressors of daily life.

Homes along the coast empty.

Shoreline, barren of other people.

Accustomed to crowded spring break beaches of southern Alabama, we loved having the shore all to ourselves.

At the same time, I wondered how residents of the lakeside town kept themselves from skipping stones and traipsing along the beaches every chance they had.

Then I realized–even as I unwound and re-discovered the deep places of my children’s hearts shamefully and too-long neglected–much of life becomes an afterthought.

None of us intends for this to happen.

The daily grind whittles us down to flesh and bones moving in reaction to surviving the stressors which weigh upon us.

Like a room greying in evening’s fading light, life loses color and hope and before we know it, we’re stumbling around in the dark. All things bright and beautiful are hidden, swallowed up by darkness.

Until somehow, light shines in and we can see again.

Perspective brings newness.

Afterthoughts become present gifts.

And we realize, even dull flat stones on the Michigan shoreline have a story . . . a tale of beveled edges softened by the tossing tides . . . a story of sand caressing away hard corners . . .a parable of the Master bringing us back to Him.

Oh, praises–none of us are afterthoughts to Jesus Christ.

Praises–we never become too daily or too commonplace for Him.

Praises–He dances along the shores of our sorrow, joy and essence all the days of our lives.

You have searched me, LORD,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you, LORD, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

~Psalm 139~

This blog post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival on “afterthought.” Visit their site to see more great posts on this topic.