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Finding Grace-Filled Moments

I spent the past few months reading href="http://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Fully-Right/dp/0310321913/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326074261&sr=1-3"
target="_blank">One Thousand Gifts
by Ann Voskamp
– a dare to live life fully right where you are. It’s
been a game-changer for me as a parent and as a person. I’ve
been purposefully trying to slow down and really see
God’s goodness every day, to drink in my kids and wallow in
their awesomeness. At some point in the book Ann says, “Every
breath is a battle between gratitude and grudgery,” and I
totally know where she’s coming from.

As I use this book to change how I parent, I’ve been trying
to teach the idea to Maddie and Cora as well. The truth is,
there’s only room in our hearts for one emotion at a time,
and it could be jealousy or anger or annoyance – or
gratitude, or happiness, or joy. When the girls are driving me
RIGHT UP TO THE EDGE of my sanity, I stop and take a breath and
find something that I’m truly grateful for at that
– not the whole “I’m glad I’m
healthy” or “I’m grateful we have a roof over our
heads” tossed off in a dismissive way, but something I can
truly be emotionally grateful for right then. Sometimes I’m
grateful I have another room to go to while I cool off; sometimes
I’m grateful my daughters have no trouble expressing
themselves – LOUDLY. But I find something and latch on, and
sooner or later find myself calm – and grateful to have the
chance to help my girls learn how to deal with life.

Maddie is understanding it better than
Cora, of course, just because she’s older. She’ll get
really frustrated or angry at Cora – or me – and
I’ll have her stop and I’ll say, “Baby, can you
tell me two things you’re grateful for?”

Mutinously close to running away, Maddie will sit rigidly and
finally fling out, “I’m grateful for my silky and for
my cat.”

I’ll smile and nod knowingly. “I can totally see that.
I’m grateful for you r silky, too; I’m so happy it can
comfort you sometimes when I can’t. Just look at it;
it’s got your name written in those bumpy letters that feel
so good on your cheek, and I know the smell is very special to you,
isn’t it?” Maddie will bury her head in silky, headed
towards calmness as she contemplates the wonder of silky.

“And I’m so happy you have a cat,” I’ll
continue. “I know silky’s great, but sometimes you want
a real live body to snuggle against, a warm furry side to cry into,
and I’m so grateful you have that with a cat who loves
you.” Maddie will look up, a smile on her face, and tell me a
story of a recent time when her cat gave her such love.

Calm and happy, Maddie and I will then address the problem of the
day – whatever it may be – and she can move forward.
This sounds like a lot of work, I know, but training her heart like
this will reap huge benefits for her in the long run when I’m
not there to help talk her through calming down and finding peace.

Finding the gratitude – and the grace – in every moment
has not led me to a Mary Poppins-like existence – don’t
get me wrong. But it has helped me to find joy in the everyday
events of my life – to stop trying to get “stuff”
done so my real life can begin. When I lie in bed with one of the
girls at night trying to get them to sleep FOR THE TENTH TIME I
silently look for my gratitude list when all I want to do is punch
out of my parenting time clock and sit on the couch and watch
television, and by the time my girl is calm and ready to go to
sleep I find tears of happiness streaming down my face –
because I can comfort my child; because I can lie next to those
freckles and inhale that smell and she’s not rolling her eyes
at me; because I won’t always be able to comfort her by
simply lying down next to her and I’m glad I can right now.

These moments of grace are few and far between most days –
but traveling from one to the next keeps me sane, and makes me a
better parent. And I know it’s making my girls stronger,
kinder, and more ready to face a crazy world.

And for that, I am grateful.


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