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 see them! I see the colors!” Our three-year-old daughter points excitedly out the car window.
“What colors do you see?” I ask her. She thinks.
“Uhhhh, some pink trees!”
She doesn’t know her colors yet. But almost any answer she could give me would be correct. Colors spanning the rainbow stretch across the hills all around us.
“Steamboat Springs is supposed to have some of the best fall colors,” my husband told me on Wednesday. So on Thursday, we fit two days of school into one, and we hit the road early Friday. Making our way into the Routt National Forest, the brilliant hues of autumn are nearly too much to take in. Everything inside me aches to cement them into my memory. I want to hold onto these views. Yet this is what makes them so special — in a moment, they’ll be gone, leaving wisps of anticipation for next year.
The kids are in the backseat, confined, still for a moment — but not really. They’re moving and changing too, quicker than I can capture it all.
The trees are one thing, the underbrush another. Bands of color dress the hills like a layered cake: golden aspen stand tall, the areas around their white trunks filled in by shorter fiery red oak brush. The forest’s understory — creeping plants painted by time in yellow, orange, and red — beds of glowing lava dressing the hills in glory.
Change is inevitable. Whether we capture the beauty in it is up to us.
Watching the rapid progression of our landscape, I’m acutely aware of the breakneck pace of our lives. Last week we looked up and realized it was October. We’re nearly through another year. Our kids are growing up, and I’m terrified I’ll glance up one day and have missed any of it. Along with time’s relentless gait, the world around us shifts and teeters on an unpredictable axis. Change is frightening, whether it is a swapping out of the norms in our society, or change we invite into our own lives. In twelve years of marriage, we’ve moved eight times. Change is no stranger. Yet just like the trees that I swear are transforming right before my eyes at this moment, it feels impossible to harness.
It happens so quickly every year. In chilled air, we sense autumn’s approach, and my heart aches at the thought of missing it. So this year, we decided to do our best in capturing the colors in the vaults of our memories. Because before we know it the branches will be bare. Falling leaves will give way to cascading snow. My kids will be older. I, too, will be older.
I’m acutely aware that I only get eighteen autumns with each of my kids before they fledge. I hope, seeing them against the breathtaking backdrop of rapidly changing aspen and cottonwoods, their own progression through time might seem slower. The eagerly transforming colors might, in perspective, make my kids stand still in time, even if only for a moment.
These seasonal cues serve as visual anchors. They help us in becoming aware of time and its passing. We learn to see time as limited and precious. Over two days and 365 miles, we experience the most beautiful fall color drive. Rain from the day before has left the forest wet and fragrant — perfumed with the aroma of time. Summer wildflowers have bowed down, their color replaced with new brilliant hues of turning underbrush and fern. To each season its own glory.
We’ve lived here nearly six years, yet only now have I become familiar with the seasons of Colorado. As I grow aware, they’re serving as consistent anchors throughout the year.
I assume we’ll take this drive, or another like it, a year from now. It will become one of our seasonal traditions tethered to visuals in nature. In May, we seek out migrating birds and celebrate the opening day of shed hunting by wandering through the forest searching for abandoned antlers. June finds us meandering meadows identifying wildflowers. In September, we venture into Rocky Mountain National Park to listen to the elk, now in “rut season,” bugling across meadows. In October, we seek out fall colors. In December, we don boots and snow pants, trudging into knee-deep snow to cut down a Christmas tree.
These seasonal traditions connect us with the land. They foster a sense of belonging. “Home” becomes a synonym for flowers, trees, scents, colors, weather, and familiarity. The seasons tie our activities to an agenda more significant than our own. They teach us that change is ok. Encouraging our kids to notice details as small as a shift in temperature or a leaf bidding its branch farewell, perhaps they’ll become more aware of God’s workings in their lives.
I pray these cyclical, dependable rhythms of my kids’ childhoods will develop in them a sense of security and belonging. May it point them to a Creator who gives new mercies every morning — a Creator who will remain faithful even after the earth ceases to spin. In the consistent engineering of nature and its cadence that keeps time, may they discover a God who has an incredible design for their lives. In autumn’s haste to shed its leaves, I want my kids to discover the beauty of change — that it doesn’t have to be scary. Just like the shifting of seasons, change can hold a crucial and beautiful purpose in our lives. As we bow before our Maker, He will use times of transition and even uncertainty to bring about His brilliant transformation in our souls.
“He made the moon for the seasons;
The sun knows the place of its setting.” Psalm 104:19
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!