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!
As a child, many of my evenings were steeped in fables and magical tales. I don’t remember the journey of the mystical creatures; their goals, hopes, dreams, or struggles. I don’t even recall what they looked like, or how their adversaries threatened them along the way. I can’t recollect the voices they spoke in, although I know they were many–and that they captivated me.
What I do recall, with vivid clarity, is my father.
He was the many voices of those characters, bringing their fables to life as he told them to us evening after evening. My brother, sister, and I would sit huddled together on the couch under blankets, my gray tabby cat reverberating with “puuuuuuurs” softly under my palm as I listened intently.
We sat completely entranced, taking in a whole new make believe world as my father read to us chapters from The Hobbit.
My father’s decision to sit down with his kids for an hour, contorting his vocal chords into silly voices, and opening up to us a whole new world; that investment of his time altered the course of who we could become.
As I was growing up, my parents would regularly walk us into Barnes’ and Noble, tell us we could each pick out three books, and set us loose. They made the decision to invest in our minds through books, over expensive toys–another choice that changed the course of my life.
Our bookshelves abounded; and so did our imaginations.
It wasn’t until nearly twenty years later, when I would begin putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard—when I myself would become a writer of stories, that I realized with unsettled nerves how drastically story telling and reading has transformed over the last two decades.
It came with my first guest blog experience; an invitation to write for another blogger. The instructions included a word count, a limit—something I had not before considered for importance in my own blogging. With this instruction came an explanation:
These words would become painfully clear to me over the next few years, as I sought to discover my voice in the online writing community. I would key out story after story, developing thought into narrative, digging deep into my past and daily experience for significance, truth, lesson, and sharing those with the online world—only to have them skimmed over.
It is both a brilliant contribution and obscenity—the amount of information we have available to us today in the form of words. From the internet we are afforded endless amounts of information, and each day we take in absurd amounts of it.
The online community has caught on to the overwhelming power of information, and found ways to make it more palatable—Twitter, with word limits of 140 characters, blogging in short sentences and paragraphs that would redden the face of a decent English teacher, and RSS feeds to deliver hundreds of those blogs to us everyday in a shortened, excerpt fashion.
Each of these tools and more have made it possible for us to scan through endless amounts of reports, advice, articles, and senseless entertainment every single day.
But how much are we actually taking in, and what of it holds any value and worth for our lives?
It is a gift, to have at our disposal so much knowledge. However, this gift has been clouded by an unbelievable amount of “fluff”.
It has left our souls longing for one thing– a beautiful part of history that we have lost among the condensing of words—story telling.
If there is one thing I have learned in blogging, it is that most readers will not read a blog post in its entirety if it is longer than 500 words.
If there is one thing I have learned in writing, it is that a story worth being read can rarely be crafted in anything less than 1,000 words. This leaves us storytellers at a great loss.
There is so much truth to be found in stories—so many lessons wrapped up in the imagery of narration.
It is the first reason I write—because writing helps me to read my own story—to look at my life and squint my eyes at every turn, thoroughly seeking each detail of a moment for what there is to be found; to be gleaned; to be learned before moving on.
When we skim through life, passing over the details while looking for the next big plot—we miss the living of life. We surrender our own story and all of its power.
This is how we are teaching our children to read. Sure, they go to school and learn the fundamentals of the alphabet, then pairings of letters, and then on to grammar and punctuation. But then they sit, staring at the glow of those screens, skimming through blurbs, snippets, and fragments of words; all the while their patience for the length of a story is dwindling.
This is why I urge you to fight back, and to preserve the gift of storytelling in your home.
It is why I exhort you that if your child is a toddler, sit down and read them a story.
And why I entreat you, if your child is of elementary age, sit down and read them a story.
Or why I beseech you, if your child is in high school, sit down and read them a story.
And why I admonish you, if your child is an adult, sit down and read them a story.
After all, when I was not yet able to ride a bicycle or navigate the bunny ears of my shoe laces, my father sat me down and read me a story of small Hobbit creatures in a make believe land. And it changed my life forever.
As I was finishing up this blog post this morning, my husband poked his head into the study. “Come here, quickly” he said with a gleam in his eyes. I followed his lead over to our boys’ room, and peaked in. Here is what I found:
There they sat together, hunched over with blankets draped over shoulders, warming their feet by the air vent; my eldest was reading to his little brother. “This one says ‘RAAAAAWR!'”; he pointed to an alligator.
They read because I read to them. I read to them because my parents read to me. I read to them not only because it opens up a whole new world to them–but it opens also a new world to me–their world.
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!