28. Celebrate life. When we celebrate life, our Christian experience becomes characterized by joy, not by the disappointments this earthly life has to offer. Financial stress, physical setbacks, fickle friends, difficult schoolwork, etc. bring plenty of challenges to adults and children alike. In short, left to itself, this world is not an affirming place. We need to be the affirmers. Our children may reject that affirmation. But, in general, people run to where they are affirmed.
One of the keys to raising the joy factor in our homes is to celebrate the small victories. This is particularly true in the area of training our children. Our joy as a family is centered on the relationships God has given us with our children, not only on the outcomes and results. If we wait to celebrate until our kids are perfect, we will miss so much. (And we will never get to the celebration!) If we wait to celebrate until the final goal is accomplished, we will miss the small victories along the way. Celebrate early and often the steps to maturity you see in your children.
We made a commitment early in our home life to not let “little victories go by with no applause” – to borrow a phrase from Wayne Watson’s Watercolor Ponies. We made a commitment in our marriage, in our ministry, in our friendships, and in our family life to find joy in the journey, celebration in the pathway. When all our focus is on the finish line, we spend a lot of time waiting, worrying, longing for change to come. When our focus is on the journey, we not only find joy along the way, but we are also tuned into how to make the path straighter and harness the lessons learned along the way.
One evening, several years ago, we announced to our children that Mom and Dad had come up with a motto for the summer. “Every day a holiday, every meal a banquet, and every night a party!” The kids looked at each other in shock and so as not to miss this golden opportunity, they quickly asked, “Are you sure?” I said it sounded great to me with school out for the summer and as long as we got our chores done, I think it would be fun. There is always a way to add intrigue to daily life.
So what did we do that summer? We probably added some unusual touches to our meals; an appetizer or a special dessert. Rhonda and the kids did more spontaneous activities during the day. We might have bought a season family pass to Astroworld. We probably went to TCBY for a treat a few more evenings than usual. And a party is pretty easy to create as long as any size party will do. In short, we did some special things that summer, but nothing outlandish and we didn’t let the expectations go beyond reasonable. I will say the general attitude around the house made it seem like a three month long celebration and the “hype” left a mark of joy that we still talk about today.