936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I felt very far from the world’s greatest mom.
With the baby balancing on my hip and prayers that she wouldn’t spit up on my dress, I scrolled through my mental list.
Binder. Outlines. Laptop. Deodorant. Formula. Diapers. Snacks.
Our three boys ran about the rental house half-dressed and full of energy. My husband slipped clean shirts over their heads and I pushed from my overcrowded mind their desperate need for a bath. In the mayhem of minutes before loading the car and setting out for our first of five speaking events that week, doubts echoed in my mind. They had begun the day before, during our ten-hour drive with four young children.
Who does this? I had asked myself. There was excitement, to be certain, but also a lot of second thoughts. It would be easier to stay home. Were we only adding chaos to our life? Rush has a way of stealing our why. And that evening my why had gotten lost somewhere between changing diapers and applying mascara.
Yet as the week unfolded, God graciously showed up in big ways. He’s kind like that, isn’t He? To gently assure our hearts of the big things He has placed in them. Maybe you feel lost in the haze of early-fall agendas, with school drop-offs and carpools and sports practice and work deadlines. Perhaps your why is losing its voice.
That evening my husband and I shared a stage and a story, about a rainy day in the Ozark mountains when we placed pen to paper and wrote a list of “whys”. Our family value list. We looked out over a room full of parents and shared exactly how that little list has impacted our family in very big ways.
As the event wrapped up that evening, and we talked with lingering parents while packing up supplies, our seven-year-old son ran to me and wrapped his arms around my leg. “How did your talk go, Mom?” My why showed up again, right there in his eyes looking up into mine.
It showed up too as our kids would pray with us each time before we got up to share with families that week.
I found myself tracing that why back to three words on our list of family values:
Do life together.
The frenzy of organizing details and packing supplies became muted by the beauty of doing life as a family, of living as a team, of taking on God’s mission together, side-by-side.
It turned what felt crazy into a crazy amazing adventure.
On the last evening of our trip my parents drove several hours to join us. My mom attended the event where I was speaking that evening, and the next day she would make the ten-hour trek home with us to help with our kids over the following week. As we road tripped back home, my mom feeding bottles to the baby and keeping the boys entertained in the back rows, I traced my why back to twenty years ago.
I could see myself in the backseat, the same age as my second son, five-years-old and sandwiched between my older siblings, logging miles and memories across the United States as we traveled as a family. I could see my mom’s fingers wrapped around my dad’s hand between the two front seats, an image cemented into my memory.
My dad had been offered a job when I was a baby, one that would require weeks on the road out of every month. He would take it with one requirement: that his family could come with him. For the first five years of my life, this is how we would do life together, and it would shape me for the rest of my life. As dad worked and mom homeschooled us from hotel rooms and city museums, my brother and sister and I got to watch marriage and family at work, a team undivided.
The dynamics of a home change when a family dreams together, and then puts actions to those dreams. When our children are invited into the work we are doing, when the vision is shared with them, they take on responsibility. A team is made. That is what we’ve witnessed in our own home, and oh is it beautiful! Messy, of course. Family life is. But I don’t want the messiness to be made of mere busyness. No, I want our children to watch and be a part of how we navigate the messiness, and keep our hearts fixed on what God has called our family to.
Sometimes the most beautiful mess we can make is the peeling back of lesser things to get at the core of something. Doubts dissipate within the guardrails of purpose. That week as we shared about the importance of a family values list, we left parents with a handout to get started. It is a conversation starter, meant to guide couples, or a single parent along with a mentor or friend, through the beginning stages of naming their family values. You can download that guide today, and begin a conversation in your home that may just forever change your family, as it did our own.
A chalkboard hangs on our living room wall reminding us of our own family’s core values. The truth is, there could be one million good things to spend our life for. But if we focus on everything, we’ll end up focusing on nothing. When we hone in on what we want the heartbeat of our family to be, we begin living with great excitement and purpose. We begin to discover and walk in the grand narrative God has for our crew.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!