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!
On an ordinary day several months after my book released, I received an email from a stranger. While in Barnes & Noble to sign her own book, A Voice Becoming, she happened to see my book with a “Local Author” sticker on it. “Made me think you are local and I wondered if you’d like to connect?… I’d love to grab coffee and get to know you.” Well, we did grab that cup of coffee together and I could not have been more inspired by my friend Beth Bruno’s ministry and message! I’m so happy to have her sharing today on the blog.
The one I carried for eight months in an ancient land was technically born in a Virginia hospital while visiting family. She came on Mother’s Day, so I treated myself with a huge epidural and slept until they told me to get to work. The third baby and far removed from naïve principles of natural birth and plans, I just wanted to hold her tight in the fastest manner possible. We named her Sophie: wisdom, after the ancient church in the background of our lives across the sea. And, while we returned with her for a year to that exotic land, we have been gone the last eleven, and that church, her eyes had never seen.
There’s a certain bone-longing to know the place from which you emerged. Where was the train headed when Sophie joined on Mother’s Day, 2006? The family narrative she entered as she peeked through the slits of sleepy eyes? She arrived in a story unfolding; one that included the towering pink church of her namesake, Haghia Sophia.
What is your child named for and what story did she enter when she joined your family?
When our children know the place from which they came and the story to which they entered, they are grounded in the family narrative. They have an idea of where they belong and a rooted sense of place from which to slowly emerge as individuals. Later, they will be asking where am I going? not where did I come from? just as God asked Hagar as she paused at a well on the desert road to Shur.
This summer, we returned to Haghia Sophia. We went in search of place, but also far more. We went alone so that she would know my intentionality: she is worth the expense of quality time with just me. We went with eyes open: she is a part of a global sisterhood that God is inviting her to join as she becomes a woman. We went for adventure and to make meaning of that which we might otherwise miss.
And we went looking for still more.
In school, Sophie had studied Constantinople. She knew, as did I, that Emperor Justinian built the church in 537 AD, the second one after a devastating fire destroyed the first. She also knew his wife Theodora helped him, made him stay and lead his people when riots threatened his reign. I did not. In fact, I had never heard of Theodora! A place to which I had visited countless times, shaped by a woman I never knew existed?
A bit of research revealed a complex, strong, influential woman that had her fingers in the making of this magnificent place of worship. We wanted to find evidence of her. Would we?
I wondered if she was in one of the mosaics they’ve slowly recovered and renovated over the years. Perhaps one of the Empresses whose names I never noticed? But no, as we walked and admired and stared at the brilliance, there were no signs of Theodora. In our last moments we came upon a small section of folding chairs in front of a small monitor. A documentary was playing and our cobblestone-weary feet needed rest. As we leaned in to hear above the cacophony of the echoing marble chamber, the voice said something about the columns. 117 columns throughout the church, each inscribed with a monogram: Justinian and Theodora’s. She etched her name 117 times throughout the expansive church! She left her mark and in that moment, it was hard to deny that Sophie’s birth and name and meaning was intricately tied to this place, its history, and this incredible woman who helped bring it forth.
This is how we make meaning of moments we might otherwise let pass, categorize as “interesting”, or dismiss as nothing more than cool. God has so much more for us to discover than cool, interesting moments! He has intricately knit together time and invited us to join him in this big storied life. God has been using women throughout history to bring forth beautiful, lasting things for his glory. How might my daughter do the same?
Parenting with intention is a blessing to our kids, but it requires us to have eyes wide open, expectant and curious. Where can you have curious, expectant eyes with your kids in the season of life you find yourself? How can you make meaning out of that which might otherwise be missed?
For those of you in a season of parenting tweens and teens, you have probably noticed them wrestling with bigger questions, wondering at their place in this world. This is the time to cast a vision of the story God is inviting them to, pulling them out of their small-storied lives and learning how to make meaning themselves. For you, I’ve prepared a free primer. You can download it here.
You know, when you exit the Haghia Sophia, a mirror hangs above the massive bronze doors so that visitors can see the mosaic hanging behind them: Emperor Constantine is handing the city to Jesus, a symbol of offering the glory of his creation back to his creator. What a beautiful picture of our call as parents! May we offer back to our creator our children, glory and all.
Beth Bruno is an activist, speaker, and author living in Colorado with her husband of 23 years and 3 kids, ages 18, 15, and 12. Learn more about Beth’s book, A Voice Becoming: A Yearlong Mother-Daughter Journey into Passionate, Purposed Living and Beth’s new Fierce & Lovely Podcast.
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!