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!
“I think it is this one.” My six-year-old son studied the page in front of him, then shifted his focus to the auburn blob on the shore. An hour earlier he strolled out of a bookstore on the pier, the proud new owner of a Beachcomber’s Guide. Daddy and his two little brothers snacked on treats at a nearby bakery while Zeke and I took his guidebook for a test run on the beach. “It’s a Lion’s Mane Jelly Fish,” I confirmed. “The largest jelly fish in the world!” He stood in awe. I did, too.
We had been at these waters for three weeks, and still I could not figure out their ways. The same tide that washed that Lion’s Mane jelly onto the shore seemed uncertain and unpredictable. Our life, in so many ways, felt the same.
Throughout our eight weeks living in a trailer on the Puget Sound, our three boys would watch in wonder each day to see what the tide would bring. “This is Dino, Beef, and Leaf” the boys told me one evening, pointing into a Tupperware they had confiscated from our three-by-five foot kitchen in the trailer, it held three hermit crabs. We hopped from rock to rock down by the docks, the sun setting around us, hermit crabs scurrying between clams, barnacles, and bright purple, pink, and orange starfish. The tide always brought surprises.
The tide comes in twice a day, shifting its arrival each time by mere moments. Never did it arrive at the same time as the day before. It felt random to me. A system I couldn’t place my finger on, and yet it always returned with gravity’s pulse. It was steadied by something far stronger, something unseen—the moon pushing and pulling, telling the water where to go and when to return.
At times, I felt like those tides. Our life spun with a hint of unpredictability. I wondered if we were unsteady—shifting here and there. I wondered, as we uprooted, moved our family across the map, left work, found work, and took risks, if we were causing unease, if we were upsetting balance. I questioned, like all parents do, if we were making the right choices for our family.
I wanted to understand those waters. I needed to know that as life shifted, as seasons changed, as chapters open and closed, that something far bigger than us and the decisions we made could govern our family. I needed something stable.
With every day we spent at those waters, I realized that stable is exactly what they are. Just as dependable as the earth’s rotation, those waves move to the pulse of the moon, all of it orchestrated by the God who set the boundaries of the sea—the same God who knows the coming and goings of my own family. “The mind of man plans his way,” we read in Proverbs 16:9, “but the LORD directs His steps.”
The One who hung that moon and told it how to command those waters, He is faithful to guide our families, too. When we stand in the tension of choices, we can depend on the master designer of the universe, the One who created that moon, those seas, and called them “Good”, and then created humanity and called us “Very good.” His Word, His commands, His love, His promises, His goodness will be our pulse, our map, our stable ground.
As the waters in our lives shift, as seasons come and go, as storms brew and waves billow and we feel tossed to and fro, we grasp for something steady. “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.” Proverbs 20:5 tells us, and I saw it in the deep waters as we would take the boat out in the evening to check our crab traps. The boys would watch the water, thick with Moon Jellies, and my husband would pull the traps from the ocean floor, waiting until the metal crested the surface, water emptying back into the sea. He would toss back anything extra, and take only what was needed. It was a sieve of sorts, just as the boys would sift sand and rocks for hours down on the beach, just as we were sifting our life, looking for gold, disposing of chaff—distractions that had claimed too much of our time and attention. This is the drawing out, the throwing back of all that won’t matter in twenty years. This is sifting and sorting what we want our life to be.
When time feels uncertain, when we ache to grasp what seems unpredictable, when we question which way is which and what one is right—may we step back and remember that we have a God with a great plan. A God who set the boundaries for the sea and the moon to guide its waters. A God who cares deeply for our families, and is faithful to lead us, too.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
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!