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!
“Mom, we need to go hike to sort out our minds.”
My eight-year-old has seldom spoke truer words.
On the way to the river, I notice bright green grass lining the canyon road. Any other year, this would be a sign of hope. But there’s a dichotomy to it this spring. As the crocuses pop their sleepy heads up from browned lawns, and eager buds emerge from tree limbs, a heaviness hangs over these signs of spring.
Hope feels stifled.
Our world is scared.
I have kept a too-close eye on the Covid-19 virus to not be concerned, to not echo the fear of this world. Today, as my children splash in the chilly ice-melt water of the river, my mind circles around and around and back again to what their future holds. Those repetitions of my thoughts snag on every “what if” scenario, catching on the details I cannot control. I squirm with anxiety, like so many other parents across the map of this broken world.
At one moment amidst this all I realized it is not Covid-19 that is my problem. Beneath this virus, there is a far more deadly epidemic spreading.
It is the disease that’s reached me long before news of this virus. It is the one that has plagued me my entire life. It is the one that presents symptoms at any uncertainty.
It is the virus I succumb to by choice. It is Fear.
Standing at the river’s edge with my toddler girl lost in thoughts of rocks and sand and water, I listen to the song of creation. The melody holds more context today. I read about it last week in the allegory, Hinds’ Feet On High Places.
In this story, the main character, Much-Afraid, is being led by the great Shepherd out of the valley, where she has lived her life tormented by fear, and up to the mountain heights. On their way, Much-Afraid passes a patch of wildflowers and remarks,
“’I have often wondered about the wildflowers… it does seem strange that such unnumbered multitudes should bloom in the wild places of the earth where perhaps nobody ever sees them and the goats and cattle can walk all over them and crush them to death. They have so much beauty and sweetness to give and no one on whom to lavish it, nor who will even appreciate it.’
The look the Shepherd turned on her was very beautiful. ‘Nothing my Father and I have made is ever wasted.’”
With that, the Shepherd leads Much-Afraid on. They pass beneath the bird songs, along the river with its bubbling brooks, and past more carpets of wildflowers. All the while, they join in the jubilant songs of nature. They get to the point where the Shepherd must leave Much-Afraid in the hands of the guides who will take her the rest of the way. The Shepherd promises that He will be near and protecting her, but her old ways grip her, and anxiety rises. “All of the sudden,” we read, she “becomes deaf to the music around her and to be full of fears and forebodings again.”
This is the way of fear. It is the disease we are predisposed to at birth. It is ever-lurking, and ever-aware of when we are vulnerable to its attack. When it flares, it demands our attention. We become deaf to the cadence of God’s faithfulness.
I was sharing my own anxieties with a dear friend last week when she reminded me, “Our minds can’t focus on our Almighty God and fear at the same time.” Her words set in me a determination to reroute the pathways of my mind — something I cannot accomplish outside the grace of God. These well-worn paths of fear don’t quickly overgrow with underbrush. They require time of no travel, time of negligence. And this demands that I focus on Almighty God, and choose to no longer travel down their dead-end ways.
“For you, O God, have tested us,” I read in Psalm 66 this week, and I certainly feel my faith is being tested.
“You have tried us as silver is tried…
We went through fire and through water; yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance.”
That ending declaration brings my mind back to the green grass along the canyon road, to the crocuses and buds whispering an anthem of God’s faithfulness. He is bringing us to a place of abundance.
Out of the fire comes abundant faith, abundant hope, abundant peace, and abundant joy.
“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven,” we find in Isaiah 55, “and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
The soggy ground beneath my feet at the river is soaked with hope. Snow and rain have prepared it for glory. I can only pray God is doing the same work in my soul — taking up all of this fear-parched clay and soaking it in preparation for life to burst forth.
This is the song I hear at the river, and in the birds carrying the melody of spring. They “water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout.” His word has not wavered. His sovereignty has not diluted. He is preparing a place of abundance. Isaiah goes on, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace.”
This is choosing to shift focus from the epidemic of Fear in my heart, to Almighty God. Across this broken world the octave of fear is rising. But louder still are the songs of His goodness, His power, His faithfulness. Creation sings them. And as we join in, Fear is eradicated.
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!