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!
Sometimes new seasons of life appear at your doorway like an unannounced and unexpected visitor. Maybe that season, standing on your doorstep, is like a friend you haven’t seen in a long while. Unexpected, yes; but met with excitement and a hearty welcome.
Or maybe that season is like the sales person knocking all too eagerly at your door; something you’d rather turn away. Maybe it’s worse. Maybe the unexpected season of your life is like the police officer, knocking regretfully at your door, bearing news he’d altogether rather not carry the burden of.
Whatever season you’re in, if it was unexpected, take heart–there is grace for such seasons.
Can I be honest about something? It might ruffle a few feathers, but I guess that’s what writers do, and sometimes it’s necessary. So here it goes.
I do not believe that God causes everything that happens in our lives. While I do believe He is a grand conductor, I also believe that He allows us to play solos once in a while, even though He knows that, without a conductor, they’re not going to sound so good…
When unexpected things happen in life, people sometimes jump to try to comfort with, “Everything happens for a reason.” I would beg to differ. I think some things happen for no good reason.
Sometimes, when that unexpected season shows up at your door, God sent it. But not all of the time. Sometimes it just shows up. But fear not, for whether God sent it or not, He knows just what to do with it; He knows how to use it to shape you and bless you.
God plans good for us. But sometimes bad happens. He doesn’t cause it, but He might allow it, for a bigger reason than we can fathom at the time. I hold this view because I just can’t bring myself to believe that the horrible atrocities of this world were somehow a part of God’s plan.
They weren’t. Because His plan was perfection.
But then we played a solo. And it was ugly.
Of course, being all-knowing, God always knew how it would pan out. He knew our solo would lead to our demise. And so He had a rescue plan, all along.
Because that is the character of His grace; and that grace, if it is big enough to reach down and rescue us from our greatest plight of utter sinfulness and hopelessness, then take heart, because it is big enough to reach down and touch you right where you are, whether this season of life was expected or not.
A couple of months ago, a new season appeared on my own doorstep. It was the “unexpected friend” kind of season; unexpected, but very welcome!
It rolled in with a flurry of emotions, knocking me off my feet, leaving me grappling for the armrest of our big sofa chair in the living room. I was home alone with the boys; they played in the kitchen, 15 feet away, oblivious to my shock as I settled into the sofa chair, leaned forward, placed my elbows on my knees, and squinted. Hard.
I turned my hands this way then that way, adjusting the object within them to catch better lighting. And squinted. Hard, again. Yes. It was there. An ever-so-faint yet ever-so-present second pink line!
We always planned on having at least one more child. But we are in a very busy season of life. And so, when the man came home, and I at once embraced him, we looked into each other’s eyes, and if I’m honest, I think our first thoughts were something along the lines of: We are in too busy of a season of life for this right now.
An unexpected season. Part of the plan, yes; just not exactly according to our timing.
Thank God that His timing is so much wiser, so much greater than ours. Because last night, as I went into my boys’ rooms long after they had fallen asleep, kissed their soft little foreheads, and prayed over them once more before bed, a realization caught me off guard.
As much as I cannot possibly imagine my life without either of these two precious boys, in a year from now, that is exactly how I will feel about this child in my womb that right now I know so little about!
It took us a couple of weeks to get over the surprise. And right about when the shock began to wane, and the excitement over this new child rose within us, so did my morning sickness. And afternoon sickness. And evening sickness.
Just like my other two pregnancies–it was as if I woke up one day and I couldn’t look at an onion. Or touch a green bean. Or think about any of the produce out in my garden that still needed to be harvested. And so the garden went untended. I simply had no time, no motivation, no energy.
Soon after the garden was given up, cooking took the same route. With my stomach in constant turmoil, bombarded by surging hormones at all hours, I had little desire to eat, and even less desire to cook.
And so, I make another confession: I think we ate out for 8 weeks straight. I’m not kidding. If you think I am, I could show you our budget sheets…..
I also stopped running. With my half-marathon just a couple of months away, the big race I’ve trained almost a year for, I found myself struggling to run a mile, let alone anywhere near 13.1 miles.
Somewhere around our 5th order of Thai food in a couple months span, I found myself greatly disheartened. Yes, joy swelled within me at the thought of my tiny child growing within my own body. But I am a very driven person. I love accomplishing things.
And so, when I found myself more often than not spending a whole day on the couch, laundry piling up, blog posts going unwritten, stir-crazy boys locked inside with me, and nothing on the stove top for dinner, I began to wonder if I would ever chop a pepper again.
Would I ever again knead fresh dough under my hands, or was my life now confined to take-out boxes?
It’s funny–when unexpected seasons of life show up, you also tend to find grace and hope in unexpected places.
Grace can be hardest to see when we are in the midst of uncertainty, or feeling like a failure. But it also shines the brightest then, because we know it can’t be coming from us; no, it must be something bigger than ourselves.
Just as I found myself squinting ever so hard weeks ago to see that faint pink line, I find myself now squinting ever so hard to spot and recognize these moments of grace as we navigate our new season. But as I begin to see them, one by one, each moment of grace becomes clearer; easier to observe.
One day it came through a kind word from a friend. Another day, I saw grace in a breakthrough run, one that reminded me that yes, I will accomplish my race next month. Every single day I see it in the eyes of my boys and my husband, with love so patient in the midst of my impatience. And now I begin to feel it every day with the tiny flutters in my abdomen, reminding me that these couple of rougher months are well worth the struggle.
Today I saw it in a home cooked meal. One of our all-time favorites: Grilled brats with onions and peppers (also grilled), alongside of my mom’s dumplings. The preparation was effortless. Early in the day I felt good, really good. I mixed dough, rolled it flat, cut it imperfectly, and tossed the dumplings into the fridge for later. The man came home and lit up the charcoal grill.
As the brats sizzled over charcoal, he grabbed the leaf blower, and quickly blew our overly abundant supply of fallen leaves into a huge heap. Zeke laughed pure joy as he stampeded through the pile; he laughed even harder as I jumped in. Ellis was apprehensive, this his first experience with leaf jumping, and so I held him near and warm, he welcomed the embrace.
Really my reminder of grace today wasn’t our favorite home cooked meal after all, it was the leading up to it; the real reason we love food: because it connects people.
It connects our family. And this time next year, as dinner sizzles over hot coals, Zeke will be the one gathering enormous piles of leaves. And as Ellison runs and laughs pure joy with his raspy little laugh, our new little one will lay nuzzled up against me for warmth, and that is a blessing that I cannot fathom; a gift from God so great to exceed my words. But then again, His grace is bigger than we’ll ever comprehend.
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!