Ann Voskamp offers this Joyful Parenting Manifesto and I think it is one of the most halting, inspiring things I’ve come across in a long time. (Follow the link. Scroll past the pictures. Seriously. You won’t regret it — such good stuff.)
I’ve had a copy printed out for a while, but haven’t found a good way to see it often. Stick it in my mirror? Frame it? Put it on the fridge? Not sure yet. For a while it sat on my bedside table, then it got shoved into my bible. I’m not doing great, then, on paying attention to this manifesto, but I do try to keep the idea of it around in my head.
Particularly, I often remind myself that there are no emergencies, and we needn’t be in a hurry (#3). Slow my mind, slow my steps, my pace so that I’m not so frantic, the kids aren’t so frantic. This is particularly true at mealtimes, when I’m trying to get food on the table to hungry babes, especially the Littlest who has recently learned to climb up in any of the chairs at the table. Or when we are trying to get out the door — please put your shoes on, I ask AGAIN. The truth is that if I remember that “only amateurs hurry” as Voskamp states, then we will have a better experience getting where we are going. There are no emergencies! It does not matter if we are a few minutes late to preschool. And the grocery store certainly doesn’t care what time we arrive. Of course it is the lens through which I am viewing my year, but it echos for me again the reminder to breathe. Let my breath set the pace, and we can avoid so many of our battles. I will hold on to my patience.
I also love how Voskamp tells us to fight feeling with feeling (#4), claiming that she, at least, can only feel one feeling at a time (now, I’m not sure if that’s exactly how I think, but…) and then she urges us to chose to give thanks at all times. We are biblically exhorted to do that same (see Eph 5:20). She asserts that to battle mounting stress, or other negative feelings, we should turn our eyes to God and thank Him for right where we are. I want to have that — to look around, in the muck, pause and say “thanks.” To know the blessings, to acknowledge the blessings as the gifts that they are. The tantruming child kicking me as I’m trying to help him get dressed. Blessing. The cries about stinkbugs: blessing. The husband who is not here because he is at work: blessing. Sleepless nights: blessing. The sink full of dishes to be washed, the laundry to be folded: again, blessings. All gifts from Him. Glory be.
These ten points are provoking and challenging. I am setting my mind to them, to live them out more fully. I know that to do this, I need to lean fully on God’s word, and His Spirit alive in my life. I want to speak grace words, to see beauty all around me. Won’t you do the same?
I’m choosing #1 to focus on for the next week. I’ll let you know how it goes. What’s your focus for the week?