Rebooting the Calendar in August

psalm 143-8

“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?”


Okay then.

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:

  1. 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).

  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4.  If you have kids, pray with them and make decisions about fall activities.  Decide what to keep and what to eliminate.
  5. 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.
  6. Be accountable.  Before you say “yes” or “no,” pray about it with your spouse or seek counsel from someone you trust.
  7. 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.


Abracadabra: The Magical Mom Trick

He made rabbits appear out of nowhere.  He seemed to read minds.  He pulled colorful bouncy balls out from behind children’s ears.

The magician at our local library amazed my kids, particularly my middle daughter who checked out four books on magic that day and altered her future career plans.

“I want to be a magician who tells jokes,” she declared.

Today, I am feeling a little like a magician without the recognition and the jokes.  No fabulously mysterious cape, no collapsible magic wand hiding a bouquet of flowers, no long flowing sleeves to stash cards and colorful scarves, and no top hat from which bunnies appear.  My Mom-attire is much less impressive.

And yet, every year at about this time, I perform a seemingly magical feat that defies all explanation, a trick that doesn’t necessarily astonish audiences, but probably should.

I set the family calendar for the new school year.

Astonished? Amazed? Flabbergasted? Speechless?

Maybe you should be.

Or maybe you’ve been waving your own Mom magic wand over the calendar and performing your own special trick for years.  You deserve a round of applause, too.

Even those of you without kids or with grown children can easily find your calendar as overstuffed as ours.

Of course, there are things outside of my control, like the school schedule and when ballet classes are offered.  So, I wait for official announcements and postings, hoping God performs the necessary miracle to make it all fit just right.

Then I sit down and scan the mess.

There are non-negotiable activities that instantly earn a place on the weekly agenda.

There are the things I believe God has asked me to do this year, which I choose to obey.

There are requests from my kids like, “Please will you pick us up from school each day so we don’t have to take a 45-minute bus ride to our home, which is only 7 minutes from the school.”

There are the “Oh please, mommy . . . .” activities like gymnastics, soccer, swimming lessons, 4H, Girl Scouts, fencing (yes, fencing), art and sewing classes.  This we carefully narrow down, allowing each child one activity at a time.

Then there are the 50 other possibilities that are wonderful and good: The Bible studies, prayer meetings, committees, volunteering, and classes I’d do.

When we think we’ve made it all fit, unexpected birthday parties and get-togethers, after school activities, and events squeeze into the corners of Saturdays and evenings.

Of course, it’s all good.  And maybe, just maybe, if I don’t let my kids take swim lessons every time they are offered my daughter won’t make it to the 2024 Olympics.  That would obviously be the world’s loss.

But today, as I was reading in 1 Corinthians, I was reminded of the one thing that sometimes gets nudged out of our lives by the incessant activity we magically jam, cram, and squeeze into our calendars until they burst.

Paul wrote:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV).

Even if we invest our time in everything good and noble, we might be mis-managing our calendars.

Ultimately, speaking God’s language, knowing God’s Word, giving away to the poor, and sacrificing our very lives are all worthy, but even they are utterly meaningless if we don’t do them in love.

So then, what about committee meetings and weekly groups and gymnastics lessons?

Yes, meaningless without love.

Thus, I’ve been praying this year about leaving room for God’s love in our family calendar.

We’ll do what is necessary, what God has asked us to do, and we’ll love our children by allowing them to (within reason) develop gifts and talents God has given them.

And then I’ll refuse to feel guilty for declining to do every other good thing that comes my way.

I want to leave some breathing room for taking meals to the sick and for hospital visits.   Nights off as a family so I can enjoy my kids’ character, not just their hobbies.  Time in my day for last-minute ministry opportunities and helping a friend.

I want the freedom to love others without it destroying a to-do list or rigid schedule.  I don’t want official “ministry” to prevent me from ministering to those in need.

After all, in the end, Paul tells us that “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). Love doesn’t require magic, but it does require time.

How do you manage your busy calendar and decide what to do and what not to do?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.