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!
The sky demanded that I hurry. Nervously, I glanced upward past the aged Sycamore trees in our backyard, their leaves shivering on branches. Nothing about this impending storm was leisurely. It was our first spring in Kansas City. And although we had only called this part of the map home for a few months, we were already familiar with the potential of its storms.
I looked out over the twenty by thirty plot of deep brown soil in our garden. What a transformation it was from when we moved in. As we had walked the perimeter of the house with our realtor, this dismal plot is what caught my affections. A neglected parcel of bramble and decay. But I saw potential in its hints of life. Over the coming months as I would dig my hands into that dirt side-by-side with my husband and two boys, we would happen upon signs of work. Someone had, at one time, sowed hope into this garden. Pulpous peppers laid beneath tangled weeds. Delicious perennials of asparagus and strawberries began to crop up from the dirt in late winter. We took honor in restoring what someone had once invested time and heart into.
But today all of our toil was under threat. Seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and tomatoes poked up in careful lines, unaware of the coming doom. I threw on my coat, grabbed the keys, and drove to the nearest Dollar Store where I promptly filled my cart with thirty brightly colored plastic buckets. It seemed a steep investment. Perhaps it wouldn’t even hail. But I wasn’t willing to take that risk. Arriving home I ran out to the garden and placed a bucket upside down over each seedling. Those buckets were an obvious and practical way that I could protect what our hands had worked so hard for. But there were so many other dangers during the waiting of that spring. Each day I wondered if insects would infest, or if the sun would scorch tender leaves, or if birds or deer would steal our bounty.
In the waiting, we long for harvest, when we’ll know the end result and see the reward. The not-yet space leaves too much to question. The middle ground is a messy space.
If that garden challenged me in only one thing it was this: that an essential piece of work is the waiting. And isn’t that the hardest thing to do when we are anticipating results? When we are longing for toil to turn to fruit, the waiting is where we often falter. Waiting makes us itchy. As time expands and seasons of waiting stretch, we tend to reach for control wherever we can find it.
To wait well is to surrender. Time’s ticking wants us to fight for control, to force the growth. To surrender the wait of our work is a soul-aching endeavor. However, as we hold-up for fruit, we often find that the growth God is most concerned about is that which is taking place in our own heart.
I see it as I show up and do the rinse and repeat work of motherhood. As we tackle the same tasks and discipline at a dizzying pace, waiting for results we may not glean for years to come, God honors our persistence. He imparts to us His own patience. Will we trust that He is at work in the midst of our waiting?
Everything He calls us to has a requirement for the position: to wait well. To work faithfully, yes, and then to wait for what only He can do.
What work are you waiting in? Has God called you into a particular field to get your hands dirty?
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16
Maybe God called you to the edge of that field and asked you to consider its potential. Perhaps He led you to buy in, handed you a pair of work gloves, and gave you a vision of a vineyard brimming with fruit. Yet what is a vineyard but a testimony of waiting? What is wine but a collection of moments pregnant with hope?
I remember that feeling well, with each of my four children. I can still feel the frustration of late pregnancy, when I would arrive at a day’s end and wonder whether I had actually gotten anything done. All the while life had been growing, and at just the right time, that life would come forth. I would hold, feel, take in, and know.
For my daughter, our first and only girl after three boys, the surrender of wait had never pressed me so hard. At thirty-three weeks pregnant, I walked into the hospital with mild contractions. “Braxton Hicks”, I chalked it up to be. But I better make sure. I would be in and out and off to meet with friends in an hour, I was certain. But as my doctor stared at the monitor and then turned to me and said, “That is the heart of a child who is not alright”, I knew my plans for the evening were changing.
All night long the doctors and nurses watched that screen as it sung a too-steady melody of my daughter’s heart. We needed crescendos, accelerations… there were none. Everyone stood by in scrubs, prepared to roll me into the operating room and take my baby girl out seven weeks too early.
Please wait, I begged my daughter. “Girls do better than boys when they come early, they’re strong.” My doctor tried to encourage me. But she had also told me the facts, the dangers, the realities of a baby this small.
Our girl stayed put, and we were discharged the next morning. Over the following month doctors ran tests and studied heart monitors and scrutinized over ultrasounds. As I laid helplessly in hospital rooms, or at home during sleepless nights, I longed for a job. Like those buckets over the seedlings, I ached for a way to protect her. Waiting was terribly uncomfortable, and not only because I was carrying around thirty extra pounds on swollen feet, but because I felt useless. And then, at thirty-seven weeks and two days, my daughter entered the world, healthy, whole, and ready.
Over that month, I had longed for control. I had no option but to surrender in the midst of time and circumstances I could not manipulate. And when at last I watched my husband staring into the eyes of our beautiful daughter, I could see the evidence of God’s hand in the waiting. When I could not work, control, or force the details of our reality, He was at work.
It is just as the Apostle Paul explained to the church at Corinth when they were quarreling over who was their leader. “I planted,” he began, “Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6
God calls us to great and beautiful endeavors. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” Ephesians 2:10 tells us. Yet without Him, the work is empty and listless, without vibrancy or purpose. He gives our work eternal significance. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
Working and waiting become synonyms in the kingdom of God. We work while we wait for Him to bring life. We wait for His redeeming work, for His restoring work, for His revolutionary work, for His work of making this decaying world new, all in His time.
Waiting can make us fidget in our seats. We’re eager to get to work and make things happen. Yet when God calls us to surrender and wait, He is inviting us into His deepest rest. A rest that saturates and replenishes our spirit, knowing that He is still at work, and He has everything under control. He’s watching the clouds, ready with buckets, and tending to the slow, steady, graceful cultivation of our faith.
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!