Dear Reader, it is my great privilege and pleasure today to introduce you to a sweet friend of mine, Eryn Lynum. Just yesterday she released her first book into the world, 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting, and let me tell you, it’s going to rock your world! Eryn was given a jar of pennies at her second son’s child dedication, and told that it contained one penny for every week of her son’s life until he turned 18. The weight of that jar quickly brought her the conviction that we need to spend our precious few days with our children with greater PURPOSE and INTENTION.
She speaks of slowing down, of savoring moments, and in her counting of time she leads us to a gracious sweetness in days that often feel so hum drum and ordinary, especially when you are pushed and pulled by the demands of raising young children. So without further ado; our very first guest post, Eryn Lynum. I hope her words bless you as much as they have me and my family.
“I was thinking about that a lot today, actually.” My husband began. We sat next to each other on the sofa, our boys all in bed. “About how our child’s expectations are usually a lot simpler than our own. Like today, when I called them out of the backyard to get into the car. They were angry.”
We had spent six hours that afternoon driving around the mountains. Normally, this is a way we love to invest a day as a family. But today we were worn and tired and not-so-into-it. We had sweetened the deal with the promise of a sledding hill, only to arrive and be blown away—literally—by the summit winds. “Freezing cold!” our two-year-old told me, cheeks and fingers red and rosy. We lasted four minutes.
“They would have much rather played out in the yard all day. Maybe gone down to the sledding hill in town. If we really wanted to really blow away their expectations, we could have had some hot chocolate.”
We sat there quietly for a moment, considering this revelation of expectations. It seems children are more in tune with what a day is made for. We try to dress it up, squeeze it to the last drop, fabricate something elaborate, when they see the beauty of slow, steady, small moments strung together by meaningful connection.
Sometimes a mug of hot chocolate is all it takes to say I love you.
Of course we are not about to give up our mountain drives. And we realized that on this particular day, my husband and I were the ones yearning to see snow-capped summits and rugged, winter-coat elk. These adventures make up so many of our family memories. But when we’re always focused on the mountaintop adventures, we miss out on the beauty of connection available to us each and every day, right where we are.
That day we realized that, had we listened to the hearts of our children, we would not have missed the beautiful opportunity to invest in them in the small, simple ways that leave lasting marks on their legacy. We could have dog-eared that day into their stories with a simple trip to the neighborhood sledding hill. It’s so easy for us to miss these opportunities every single day, when our hearts are distracted by the big and lofty over the hidden yet significant.
What if we as parents were to focus in on the 936 weeks we have with our children, and ask ourselves each week what small ways we can make a big connection?
Here are some “small” ways to root into the moments of connection available to us today:
- Ask your child, “How would you like to spend this afternoon?” Follow their lead. Don’t offer suggestions.
- Sit with your toddler on the floor and play whatever they are playing with
- Ask your elementary or teenage child what they are reading, and what they like about it
- Go on a walk together around the neighborhood
- Have a bonfire in the backyard
- Enjoy a picnic in the park
- Color or do a craft together. Nothing that requires a trip to the store. Just find some supplies you already have, print some coloring sheets, and sit next to each other
- Pour a couple of mugs of tea or hot chocolate and enjoy ten minutes together
- Take a trip to the ice cream shop
- Ask your child to sit next to you
- Make a fort under the table
“I have found that on those days when I let my little ones have a say in our agenda, I feel the most free. Unhindered by a stiff plan or my ideal of what the day should look like, I enter into what matters the most to my child.” –936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
When our 936 weeks are all spent up, I pray that me and my grown children can look back and see a string connecting each of those weeks. I pray the fibers of that string are made of those small yet consistent moments of connection. Yes, I want them to look back fondly on our road trips and mountain adventures, but mostly I pray they see us sitting together amidst a pile of books on an ordinary Thursday afternoon.
Eryn Lynum is author of the book 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and three boys, where they spend their time hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches, and writers’ groups. But every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family, and sharing the journey at www.936Pennies.com