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 remember wanting to change the world. Were you like that in your youth? Excited and compelled to make a difference in the world around you? It burned fiercely in my spirit as I traveled the globe from age thirteen to eighteen. I wanted to bring good into this world.
At thirty-one, I’m folding laundry. Teaching phonics. Washing endless dirty dishes. Making spaghetti. Wiping smears of who-knows-what off countertops and floors. It’s easy to wonder where that fire of my youth went, until I peer into the eyes of my children. There’s a flicker in them — rising, growing, dancing in their imaginations — fueled by my interactions with them and the ideas they encounter each day. Their passion is maturing — transforming from whimsical childhood ideas to tangible ways to impact people around them.
Parenting is the most hands-on world-changing we’ll ever do. Here are these little human beings right in front of us, waiting to be influenced, shaped, grown into respectful, loving, intelligent, wise members of society. It’s just so often prolonged. Gradual. It feels stand-still, in reverse, some days. We question if what we’re doing is impactful — if a small unseen repetitive task will matter in ten years. On these days, 1 Corinthians 15:58 reverberates in my soul, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
It ends up I did exactly what I wanted to: I brought good into this world. In little laughter around the breakfast table and wide-grin smiles as we play soccer in the snow, I glimpse it. They’re dredging the bad right out of me. Selfishness melts away in their presence. They press me to be better. Together, we’re making the world better — right here. This is the training ground.
If we leave our parenting to default, society shapes our children, who then shape society. What might a generation pressed into the mold of society look like? I think we’re seeing it more and more. But, on the other hand, with an intentional and concise vision, we get to shape our children, who then shape society. We can teach them to think critically, uphold truth and justice, know what they believe and why they believe it, and love like Jesus did: in a way that leads people to God’s goodness and grace.
As parents, we see the trouble all around us, and it evokes fear and uncertainty. What kind of world will our children be adults in? These issues rise like a tsunami — a tiny, far-off bump in the water that we question, “Is this something we should be concerned about?” yet it’s rising. Building. Coming toward us. When it arrives, we’re taken under and tossed about. We lose our footing. Yet in an immediate way, we can right now change the tide — but not alone. This world doesn’t need more exhausted human beings trying to do good in their own strength. Our kids, the next generation, and this society need human beings operating in the grace of God and the power of Christ. We get to be, and we get to raise, those humans.
My favorite verse on parenting doesn’t mention parenting. It is 2 Peter 1:3, “for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Everything pertaining to life and godliness: raising children not excluded. 1 Corinthians 1:7 says, “you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is not a lost cause. We have all we need to do this job well. Looking around at a world on fire, we’re not powerless. Overwhelm doesn’t get the last word. Instead, we can narrow our focus, becoming nearsighted for a little while. We can come home and linger there — all our presence and efforts — making the culture of our home an intense priority. Are we laughing each day? Are we leaving open space throughout the day for moments to connect? Are we talking about Jesus within the walls of our home? Are we playing or walking or venturing outside together?
We don’t have to do everything; we just have to do a few things that truly connect with the souls of our kids. This world is divided. Our world inside our home doesn’t have to be. Our world is confused. We can get clear on what our family’s values are and begin operating by them. Our world is angry. We can create habits of kindness. Our world is self-focused. We can practice serving each other in our home, then extend that service outside our front door.
We get to change the world. In fact, the world is standing right in front of us, pulling at our pant legs, asking for breakfast, kicking a soccer ball in the front yard, waiting for a story to be read…. Let’s go bring good into this 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!