"You only have 18 summers with your children. Don’t forget to make some memories." This is the message Michelle Cox heard from her pastor after a child’s dedication one Sunday. Even though she made an effort as a family to have fun and make memories, Cox found herself wishing she’d taken even more time to enjoy those precious fleeting moments with her sons.
Those poignant words inspired Cox to write a novel, Just 18 Summers, with author Rene Gutteridge.
After the tragic death of Butch Browning’s wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious—and fleeting—their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O’Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they’ve forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way?
As summer flies by, each of these parents must learn about guilt and grace . . . and when to hold on to their kids and when to let go.
How many summers do you have left?
What did I think of the book
I think I can most relate to Beth Anderson in this story. Her daughter announces she's getting married at the end of the summer. Beth's second child graduates from high school at the beginning of the summer, and will soon be going off to college. She and her husband, Larry, will soon have only their youngest left at home.
When this book arrived (for me to review), I didn't realize at that time that the summer of 2013 was actually my final summer with my two oldest children. They both moved out in April. Yes, I will admit, I had them each more than just the "18 summers," and I feel very fortunate and blessed to have had them those "extra years." I had a total of 22 summers with Tim, and 20 with Jen. I will also admit, I am still struggling with the "letting go!"
Okay, so I cried my way through the book, because it does hit so close to home. So, now you know: when you read this book, you may want a box of tissues handy! (You can read the first chapter!)
This from what Beth said especially resonated with me:
I realized all these years I've prayed and I've prayed and I've prayed, but I never really trusted. I never trusted God because sometimes--most of the time--it felt like I didn't have to. I had full control. They were under our roof. They were dependent on our money. The things that were hard on their lives, I could make easier by doing something special for them. I think at the end of the day I trusted in...me. And God's called me on it, you know? I'm spinning out of control because I trust in me: to be a good mom, to keep them safe and fed, to raise them as productive human beings. But you know what? It wasn't me. I wasn't ever me. They're the people they are because of God's grace in our lives. God's mercy in my life, to be the parent I was to them. If I did anything good at all, it was because of Him.Author bios
Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and bestselling author of twenty-two novels, including her latest releases, Misery Loves Company (suspense), Greetings from the Flipside (comedy), and Heart of the Country (drama). Her recent suspense titles also include Listen, Possession, and Escapement. She has novelized seven screenplays and movies, including two new releases due out in 2014, Just 18 Summers and Old Fashioned. Never the Bride, a romantic comedy with screenwriter Cheryl McKay, won the Carol Award in 2010 for best women's fiction.
Her indie film—the comedy Skid, based on her novel—is in postproduction and due to release in 2014. Rene is a creative consultant on Boo, a film based on her beloved novel series, which is in development at Sodium Entertainment with Cory Edwards attached as director and Andrea Nasfell as screenwriter. Rene is also a cowriter in a collaborative comedy project called The Last Resort with screenwriters Torry Martin and Marshal Younger.
Find Rene on Facebook and Twitter or at her website, www.renegutteridge.com.
Michelle Cox is a speaker, songwriter, conference and webinar instructor, and the author of seven books. She has been a guest on numerous radio and television programs, including Hannity, The Harvest Show and Focus on the Family. Most importantly, she's a wife, mom to three sons, and grandmother of five perfect grandchildren. Visit her websites at www.michellecoxinspirations.com and www.just18summers.com. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.
****************Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in order to give you my honest opinion.
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