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!
During my high school years my sister and I worked together at Panera bread. One Halloween my boss somehow convinced us to go out reverse trick or treating as a means of advertising. Dressed up in our Panera aprons and hats, we set out with bags of fresh bagels to hand out.
We had never once participated in Halloween as children. Being completely unfamiliar to everything Halloween, I found myself a bit out of my element.
Stand me behind a bakery counter with some cute pigtails and a smile and I could sell a bagel to a Celiac, but I found myself a tad more timid when it came to approaching unsuspecting strangers and giving them away. On my first attempt I simply walked up to a gentleman who was escorting his two children house to house and asked, “Do you want a bagel?” They looked at me perplexed, a tad concerned maybe, and managed a “No thanks” as the quickened their pace to pass us.
My sister looked at me embarrassed and suggested that we actually knock on doors and introduce ourselves before offering bagels. Her advice was sound and we managed to give away all of our bagels.
This week I found myself again in that slightly awkward position of approaching complete strangers on their doorstep, and again I came bearing baked goods.
Grayson and I have learned from our previous moves that if you don’t meet your neighbors before the weather turns cold and snow begins to fall, you won’t hardly see them let alone introduce yourself until the ground thaws again. And then it’s just plain awkward to introduce yourself because you’ve been living next to the people for several months already.
We therefore made it a priority to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors straight away, and what better way to begin a relationship than over food? We brought cookies.
I recently read a book that left me both convicted and challenged. It has necessitated some changes in how I do life. In the book “Almost Amish” author Nancy Sleeth explores some of the traditions in the Amish way of life, and the heart behind those traditions and lifestyles. She explains how the Amish are very people-oriented; a people of community; a people who make visiting, serving, and knowing neighbors a priority.
“Reaching a balance between too little and too much neighborly interaction can be tricky. On a societal level, however, the trend seems to be in one direction: away from direct human contact. Stopping by has given way to telephone calls, which have been usurped by e-mail, which is being replaced by texting and tweeting, and there are new layers of protocol. Don’t call unless you have a pre-arranged time to talk…
…The Amish joke that their favorite sport is visiting. And instead of parallel play (pursuing separate activities together), they engage in conversation. Without telephones or computers, visits cannot be pre-arranged by phone, e-mail, or texting. Stopping by is not considered an intrusion; it is a welcome respite in a work-filled week.” (Almost Amish, Nancy Sleeth, emphasis mine)
We delivered cookies to the eight houses closest to ours. The highlight for me was meeting the elderly couple across the street. An older lady came to the door and immediately upon seeing us lit up as if we were her own family who had traveled days to surprise her. She just kept raising her hand to her mouth in utter joy and exclaiming how excited she was for a young family with kids to move in next to them.
Her husband, who looked feeble and frail, had just returned from the hospital. She kept telling him to go back and sit down; to not fall and hurt himself. Every few seconds she would reach out to steady him as if to keep him from falling. But he wouldn’t return in the house, he was too excited to see the boys.
They kept insisting we come in and sit down, and boy was I ever tempted, drawn by their excitement and into the warmth of their home, which they built and have lived in for over 50 years. But we had 6 more houses to visit. And so I promised that we would come and visit on another day. And we will. Many times, I’m sure.
After we returned home, my husband told me he was proud of me. And although our two-year-old was a bit cold and cranky, and he may have reached into a bag and grabbed a cookie before handing the gift to our neighbor, he learned something about life. He saw what mom and dad count as important. That alone made our work that afternoon worth it.
Six weeks ago we left Milwaukee, and as we did, I processed through our life there. What did I regret? The opportunities we had, but did not take advantage of, to minister to our neighbors. The relationships we let pass by. Sure, we knew several of them. We had some in our home. We shared Jesus’ love, and the Gospel message of His salvation. But did I do any more than the minimum in loving and serving them?
In our society “neighbor” has become a term describing only a proximity of homes. Do people really rake each others’ leaves anymore? Or borrow a cup of flour? Or sit on the porch just to pass time in good company? It’s rare, but it shouldn’t be; and we are determined to make it a regular occurrence to have our neighbors on our porch, in our home, and a part of our life.
A Couple of weeks ago I wrote in my journal, “I want to make leaving Kansas City a very difficult thing to do.” However long the Lord has us here for, I just pray that we establish deep, meaningful, rich relationships with friends and neighbors, making for some tearful goodbyes when it comes time to move on.
These cookies are one of our favorite fall recipes. They major on the spice and minor on the sweet. One batch makes 6-8 dozen cookies, depending on size.
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!