I often think fall is more of a harbinger of change than the New Year. January 1 is a great time to regroup and restart. But the foundations of the year are usually set in the fall for me. And the changes--oh the changes--they are definitely more felt in September than in January. Can you relate?
Today I am just offering a simple list of resolutions that may be worthy of pursuit. They are some of my overarching goals for the upcoming school year, but maybe something will spur you to think of your own, or--as you likely already have some of your own, share them with others who can hold you accountable.
A Morning and Evening Sacrifice
Getting alone time with God is never easy. I first realized this in my twenties. The nail of that truth was driven home hard at that time, when I heard an 80-something year old woman express from her seat in her nursing home facility that she was "just too busy to read God's word". Wha??? Wowza! It dawned on me at that moment that if a woman at her stage of life--in the mild and down-scaled pace that she lived--could say that, then surely that was an excuse that would ever-try to weasel its way into my thinking too.
Too busy. Some people really are. Some people really aren't. But, no matter the case, the flesh will always try to convince us that we don't have enough time to be alone with God. Don't listen to that excuse! We all can find some time from somewhere in our days :) For me, it needs to be a set time early in the morning with an end time or else I linger too long and get off course.
Also, it does not have to be a long time--how wonderful when it can be!--but simply a daily renewal and washing in the word that will set our thoughts on God and eternal things. And if you can manage a morning and evening reading (more than once daily), how much more you will be blessed and nourished!
A Plan to Pray
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the needs in your own life, not to mention your burden to lift up friends and family in prayer faithfully? Are the needs of your household so overwhelming that you feel you will be in prayer for hours if and when you finally get started? Just like in any matter that seems overwhelming, breaking it down in sizeable chunks seems to make it more manageable.
Do you have a plan to pray? How might breaking out your requests in daily chunks over the course of a the week help you? What about setting up reminders (on your phone, for example) to remind yourself to pray for friends' appointments or difficult upcoming days? Several women I know who are faithful to pray for others come to mind as I suggest this. I know they use tools to help them be faithful in prayer. What tools could help you be consistent and a woman of your word when you mention to someone "I will pray for you"?
Muslims are very disciplined to pray to their god five times daily: stopping whatever they are doing and taking out their prayer mats to face Mecca and pray, faithfully, every day.
What about us, Christian sisters? Daniel prayed three times daily. Do we need to become more disciplined in prayer? How are we praying for and with our children? Can we at least pray daily if not model after Daniel? Challenging!
Save the Boxtops
I realized sometime after having my 5th baby that I was never going to be President of the PTO at my kids' school. I learned I have limitations, and that that. is. ok. If you find yourself feeling like your children have to be phenoms at everything they put their hand to, and it is your responsibility to make sure that happens, don't!
I think this point goes along with gaining an eternal perspective while alone with God. What if we looked across our calendar and said, "What on my schedule is making an eternal impact?" "How is participating in this helping/hurting our family?"
Asking these types of questions should help drive the decisions we make. We have limitations. How good to use our resources and skills for eternal gain rather than passing matters. We only have so much time in a week: where can you make investments in souls (your children and otherwise) for eternity? Spend your time there!
For example, my being a part of PTO was a good thing, but it was bearing very little fruit for eternity and it was taking me out of my home at some critical times in our evening. At the same time, my being active in a women's weekly Bible Study was transforming my heart for my home and family. It was building bonds for me with mentors and sisters in Christ and for my children with good friends their age.
I do not want to diminish community involvement in any way. But in truth, we all have limitations. We only have so many hours in a week. We can't say yes to everything that presents itself to us. Discerning where we can best make investments in souls for eternity should help define our schedules as Christians. It just might be the PTO in your case. If you are making an impact for Christ there, then that is a yes, indeed!
Letting eternal impact be the force that shapes your calendar will weed out matters that are not yours to do. This means you will decline certain activities. When this is the case but you still want to help, look for ways you can support in small ways instead. (i.e. save the boxtops:))
Feed the Masses
Feeding and cleaning children is a consuming business. Plans here are helpful too. For things to go well for me, this means monthly meal planning, grocery shopping on a consistent day of the week, and having dinner started or going before 3:30 each day. Of course these things look different for everyone.
What does it mean for you? I am not a great administrator. It is a constant struggle for me to stay on top of our game, but I am reminded it is worth struggling for because it brings a sense of order and peace to my family and our busy home. If you are gifted in managing things and people, could you please write this part of the post?! lol. What I do know is that planning helps make the burden lighter. I would love to hear what helps you on any of these points in the comments, but comments on this area could be particularly helpful and practical to all.
One thing I learned from a younger woman this summer is that she prays over her to-do list. This was a totally new idea to me. One I want to do.
Maintenance is King
Still, the best laid plans bear no weight if they are not executed or carried out. We need feet on the ground in our homes and hands that are willing to work, mine as the chief example. And it all needs to be done again and again. Repeat. May we keep after it!
Feel the Feels, but then Get Up
Finally, this last one is not really a goal but an acknowledgement. With so much change in the air--and sometimes all at once, I need to acknowledge and feel the soupy feelings that are moving around my head and heart. My normal, your normal may be changing, and that can feel very uncertain and bring its own insecurities. I am trying to have my moments when they confront me, but then to finish, dry my tears, get up in joy, and go forward. God has lots of great days ahead!
I pray someone is encouraged through these thoughts today. Thanks for bearing with me.
In Christ's love, erika