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!
“Mama, can a person break their heart?”
My four-year-old daughter studies the paper she’s coloring at our dining room table. I stand in the kitchen, drying dishes.
“What heart, Baby?”
“The one in their tummy.”
“Oh, yes. Our hearts can become sick or break, and we need to go to the doctor.”
She’s silent for a few moments, then asks, “Can a person break their mind?”
“Yes,” I respond, “we need to keep our hearts and minds healthy. We can keep our hearts healthy by being active, hiking and running and playing, and eating good food. We can keep our minds healthy by thinking about beautiful, good, and true things.”
She shuffles markers in search of the right color. I return to the dish stack with a silent prayer in my heart, Lord, protect her mind, soul, and body. This is a sacred liturgy of motherhood — wash, rinse, dry, pray, repeat.
Our kids are growing up in a broken world. The toxicity of culture permeates their everyday lives. Every part of us — the physical heart my daughter asked about and the spiritual heart, along with our souls and minds — is prone to brokenness. God created us to thrive by His design, yet living in a world broken by sin and curse, toxicity can seep into our thoughts, hearts, and homes.
The prophet Isaiah spoke long ago to the nation of Israel. They, too, were living in a toxic culture, with sin choking the life from society’s landscape. In Isaiah 1:5, God gave the prophet these words concerning Israel, “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.”
A toxic culture fumes with fear, dysfunction, and confusion. It begets sick mindsets and faint hearts. But God has so much more for our families. How can we raise our kids to live by the truth and thrive by God’s designs amid such confusion and chaos?
Isaiah continued to the Israelites in verse 6: “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it.”
Culture’s toxicity rampaged in Israel, like cancer’s tendrils reaching into each vein of their bodies, corroding connections in their brains, and taking up residence in their souls. What does Isaiah say was missing? Soundness.
The root of the word “soundness” means this: “Wholesomeness, entirety, and completely.”
When sin’s toxicity breaches, we become divided in mind and spirit. We live partial lives.
Yet 2 Timothy 1:7 promises this: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Power, love, and a sound mind: these are what we can pray for our kids as we watch them growing up in a world gone awry. And this prayer is asked with confidence as we speak God’s words back to Him. When we pray Scripture over our children, we know from 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
God wants to equip our kids with power, love, and a sound mind. He will enable them to navigate and even counteract toxic environments.
He might not remove them from circumstances, but He will protect them from the radiation of these places. Jesus Himself experienced our toxic world, and He prayed for our protection in John 17:14-17, “I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
God’s living and active Word inoculates us from culture’s toxicity. We can remain in and even bring healing and life to a sin-sick world without falling prey to its disease.
On another day, I walk along the river with my children. Tall stalks of milkweed line the riverbanks. Weeks ago, they bloomed brilliantly with pink orbs of blossoms. Those have fallen and been replaced by characteristic milk pods — fuzzy green cylinders that will soon dry, crack open, and release new seeds to the wind. Monarch butterflies could not exist without milkweed. It’s the only plant they lay their eggs on. Yet the sap in milkweed’s leaves is deadly to the Monarch’s babies. Their caterpillars hatch into a toxic environment, yet they’ve learned how to thrive. The caterpillars sense the toxicity of the sap, crawl to the vein, and sever it in half, successfully cutting off toxicity at its source.
We can equip our kids to sense harm and cut it off before it enters their minds, hearts, or bodies. Our kids can learn to recognize what is unhealthy and sever it from their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We can equip our kids to thrive in whatever environment they encounter.
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!