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!
My son tucked his chin further down into his fleece jacket. He shivered against the crisp early morning air. I couldn’t blame him. I might blame myself, actually, for bringing my three young boys out on this chilly, rainy morning. Storm clouds rolled across the peaks of mountains, quickly approaching our walking path.
Minutes before, as we pulled into the parking lot of our favorite natural area, rain drops plopped onto the windshield. “We can still go walking, Mom.” Zeke assured me from the backseat. Now with arms wrapped tightly around his little frame, I imagined he was having second thoughts. With one hand I held my hot tea, and with the other I maneuvered our stroller, along with our two younger boys wrapped in sweatshirts, down the gravel path. We wound our way around familiar ponds, only today waves rolled across them, gaining momentum as the storm front drew closer.
Ellison, my middle boy, mumbled something, the wind muffling his words.
I turned to him. “What was that, Buddy?”
“Mom,” I bent low to hear him, “The wind is singing music.”
Smiling, I stopped the stroller and turned to look him in the eyes. “Yes it is, Love.”
I turned to Zeke, “Do you hear the wind singing? What is it blowing through to make music?”
I could see his mind turning now; a meek smile crept across his face. “The wheat?”
“Yes.” I replied.
We walked on, listening to summer flowers and ash tree leaves singing to the melody of the wind. “Zeke, look at the wheat. Do you see how fast it is moving?”
The wind picked up, as if to help me make my point. “Look at just those flowers there.” I pointed to a patch of purple blossoms, hardly holding to the ground beneath them as the wind tried to tear them from the earth. “Do you see that when you focus on only one flower, it slows it down?”
“Oh yeah!” He had made this connection a few days before. From the backseat of the car he had talked me through it. “Mom, when I look outside, everything is going so fast. But then when I look at just one thing, it slows down!” I looked at him now, his cheeks and nose painted rosy red. This morning we had done the same. As I watched him pull on his jacket and brave the wild wind, I slowed him down in the midst of the fury around us. While cars drove to work and school and appointments and meetings, straight in the middle of our fast-paced society, I focused my eyes on him. And when I did, an incredible thing happened.
He slowed down.
I am sure you have felt it—the dizzying sensation of life going on all around you at breakneck speed. We find evidence of it in our own lives, marked by overstuffed agendas and endless demands for our time.
We say Yes, and then Yes again, and Yes once more, and suddenly we are all out of Yes answers when our child comes and asks for morsel of our time.
There is none left after we’ve doled it out little by little to those from the outside of our home. Of course, we don’t mean to do this. It is a symptom of our productivity addicted society. To slow down may be seen as weakness, laziness, or a lack of commitment. And yet the decision to slow down can be one of the greatest commitments we make to our family.
As parents, we’re told time and again, “Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it!” But I don’t think it’s about whether or not we blink. We can keep our eyes wide open and still miss these seasons, unless we learn to train our focus.
All of us have this opportunity; as parents we hold the power to choose slices of time, specific events, and the most ordinary of days, and to settle into them. Even in the busiest of seasons, we can slow an evening down and make it into a memory that will stand out in our child’s story, and our family’s legacy. All it takes is pushing the rush to our peripheral, and focusing in on the details of those right in front of us.
When was the last time you chose to lean into a moment, to focus just on one thing, one person, one gift, one memory—and in doing so, slowed it down? That morning with the wind blowing us about the trail, I felt the power of my finiteness. Little me standing in the midst of enormous wind power that I could hardly brace myself against—this is what we are up against in our culture.
Everything around us, as it buzzes with energy and speed under the control of that which is far more powerful than we are—we cannot slow it down. But you can choose to place your focus on those areas which you wish to reduce the speed and chaos of. You can decide which aspect of your everyday life will not be left to the whims of an unforgiving pace of the world surrounding us.
That is the power of focus. That when everyone and everything around you is losing itself in the name of getting things done and seeing things happen—you have the power to slow it all down, to watch how that one flower bends and twists and dances right in the middle of the wheat blown wild. It all happens when we choose to fix our attention on the beauty we want to behold.
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!