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!
Hoisting the silver scooter over my right shoulder, I had to smile as I wondered what onlookers might be thinking about this spectacle that I was at the center of. My crew and I trudged on, up the hill from the playground and toward our home. My three-year-old son, who had decided he did not, in fact, want to ride the scooter he had so adamantly brought along, now sat in the stroller. His two big brothers rode their bikes ahead of us, the four-year-old stopping every few pedal rotations to hop off and maneuver his training wheels back out of the grass. My two-month-old baby girl was strapped to my chest, opposite the backpack slung around my shoulders, along with that scooter.
We are told time and again that this phase of raising young children is physically exhausting. It is. I felt it in the ache of my neck and strain of my calf muscles as I plodded uphill that day. However, we are also told that although motherhood becomes less physically exhausting as our children grow, it becomes far more emotionally exhausting. There is a pivot point, and I believe I am standing right now at this crossroad. Many of you, I am certain, feel the same as you traverse from one season to the next. It is the ache of in between.
I saw it first a few months ago. Sitting next to my husband in a camp chair, our boys played in the green grass as our newborn girl nursed. Our oldest wandered off by himself. “I just want to be alone”, he explained, teary eyed, when his brothers tried to follow. He sat lost in thoughts on a picnic table a couple hundred feet away, and it struck me that I didn’t have any idea what he was thinking about.
He turned seven this summer, and he’s in this achy in between space, struggling with who he is, and who he wants to become. He is trying to navigate this place for the very first time, and I am too, as his mama.
“Search me, O God,” the Psalmist prays, “and know my heart. Try me, and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23) Something grips my heart as I wonder whether those thoughts of his on that picnic table, during his alone time, we’re wrought with anxiety.
Search him, O God, I pray along with the Psalmist. Know his heart, the one You knit together, and please give me the gracious glimpses of it in order that I may know him, too, and who You have created him to be. Help us to navigate him through this in between space and into the place You are calling him.
It strikes me one night as I am discussing with fellow Sunday school teachers the characteristics of our different age groups. Six and seven years olds don’t like comparison. I think of my boy. He grapples for position and status. He is searching for worth. Six years ago I grasped his pudgy little hand in mine and taught him how to stand. Now he struggles to know how he stands up next to his peers. He wants to prove himself stronger than his little brothers, and worthy of the big kids at the playground and church. This middle space is hard. And his growing pains become my own as we struggle to navigate this middle ground together.
Matthew 10:29-31 tells us: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
We have told it to him since he was tiny, and we won’t stop now. God made all of creation and called it good. Then He made us and called us very good. We are His favorite of everything He made.
My boy, you are worth more than the sparrows.
We ache in this in between space for more solid ground. This place is awkward, unknown, and frightening. Everything, he is learning, has a value. A number. Time and money and objects. He wants to know his own value, and oh how I pray that he will discover that it rests in Jesus alone.
That, after all, is my cyclical prayer during these days. Jesus, meet him in this in between place. Gap this achy space as we move from one season to the next. Bridge it with Your wisdom as we navigate new emotions, both him and me. Because I know that for him to root down on the other side, to pass by this achy space and find himself complete in You, then I must, also. I must, first.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness… in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” (Colossians 2:6-7, 10)
Brought to fullness. Complete in Thee. Rooted like the tree in Psalm 1, firmly planted by streams of water. That is what we will be, fellow mamas, on the other side of each of these achy in between places. As we lean hard into the One who made us, who made our children, and who made us all to know Him deeply. He takes the ache and the in between and the uncertainty, and He shows us exactly who we were meant to be, and how to lead our children in the story He has written for them, too.
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!