“Mom, I saw the Boy Scouts float in the Christmas parade.”
This is how my oldest daughter started that conversation about six years ago.
“Uh huh.” I said hesitantly. She clearly had an agenda for this conversation and I couldn’t tell what it was yet.
“Well, if there are Boy Scouts, does that mean there are Girl Scouts?”
Oh, now I understood. She saw those Boy Scouts and she thought surely if there are Girl Scouts she should join them.
But of course she also wanted art lessons and horseback riding lessons and swim lessons on top of the church activities and ballet classes she was already taking.
“Babe, yes there are Girl Scouts. But, you can’t do everything. You are doing ballet. Do you want to stop doing ballet?”
We had that conversation about six years ago and we had something like it again this week and the week before that and probably every single week of her life since she turned five.
My husband tells her that she’d have to live a hundred lifetimes in order to do all the things she wants to do.
That sounds about right.
I consider this now as I step into August and begin my annual prayer season over our fall family schedule.
Every August, I reboot the family calendar.
In the past week, I’ve received several requests to join and lead, to volunteer and help out. They are coming at me in email messages, newsletters, and meetings.
So, just like my daughter, I need the time to evaluate and prioritize. I need to know God’s will, His plan, and His heart for me in the year ahead before I jump into anything.
I’m imperfect and a work in progress on this. Sometimes, we still end up weighed down with too much. Sometimes the balance is just right.
But here’s where I begin:
- Spend the first part of August praying and not committing (if possible). Ask God to give you His heart for this season and ask Him to give you a sense of purpose and priority. I pray through these verses:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5 ESV)
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul (Psalm 143:8 NASB).
- Ask Him if there’s anything you need to step down from or let go of. Don’t do just because you’ve always done. Submit your current activities to Him in prayer and seek His guidance.
- In mid-August, mark a calendar or sketch out in a notebook what your non-negotiables are. This might be the school calendar, your work schedule, or church activities.
- If you have kids, pray with them and make decisions about fall activities. Decide what to keep and what to eliminate.
- Pray over any possible new activity or commitment and ask if it fits in with God’s plan and purpose for you in this season. If He’s been teaching you about prayer, the prayer group might be “yes” and the small group discussion time a “no.” If He has given you a heart for kids, perhaps it’s “yes” for the kids’ ministry and “no” for the food ministry.
- Be accountable. Before you say “yes” or “no,” pray about it with your spouse or seek counsel from someone you trust.
- Do leave blank space on the calendar for the unexpected, the last-minute, and the chance to rest.
When it’s all sketched out, I pray again for God to make any necessary changes, and to stop me, move me, guide me as He sees fit.
People may disagree with your schedule and that’s okay.
You may hear how if you’re a good Christian….a good wife….a good mom…then clearly you’d sign up for another program or event.
On the other hand, others might tell you that you’re doing too much and you need to focus more at home.
This is why the August reboot is personal and prayerful. It is between you and God.
He knows whether you function better with lots of activity or little activity and this is not the same for everyone!
Mark 3 tells us:
And he appointed twelve…so that they might be with him and he might send them out… (Mark 3:14 ESV).
Jesus’ first priority for the disciples was that they be with Him. It’s the same for us. We can’t let busyness strangle and suffocate us and leave us with no time to be in His presence.
Our first priority must be to be with Him.
But He also sent them out and we should be willing to go out also, out of our homes, outside of our families, our comfy cliques, our routines, and our comfort zones. We go where He leads us to go.
So we personally and prayerfully seek Him and His plan for our year–to be with Him and to be sent out for Him.