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.


Weekend Walk, 04/28/2012

Hiding the Word:

We had plans. Big plans.

It was pirate weekend in Yorktown Virginia and the annual book sale at our public library.  Add in my niece singing the lead role in an opera, church, and a birthday party and you had a full weekend.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that after two of my daughters spent time on the couch this week with fever and vomiting that the third would get sick, as well.  I sent her to bed Friday night with the beginnings of a fever.

This morning, she emerged looking bedraggled and ill and asking, “Do you think I’m better yet?”

Her skin, fire to the touch, clearly said otherwise, but I humored her with a thermometer test.  103 degrees.  “No, babe,” I said, “you’re pretty sick.”

Then there were the tears of disappointment, trading in a weekend of fun for a weekend of ginger ale and napping.

It’s one of those lessons you just can’t learn often enough in this life–that you can plan and schedule and postulate, but God has the prerogative to interrupt your agenda and alter your plotted course at any time.

Even when you know it’s for the best, that His design for you is better than you can imagine and what ultimately comes to pass is for your good, still it’s nonetheless disappointing in the moment.

For us, these interruptions are sometimes minor losses and daily annoyances; sometimes they’re the source of great sorrow and bitter grieving.

Regardless of their magnitude, we can all learn to pray as Jesus did, kneeling in the garden and submitting His will to the Father’s.

“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42b).

It’s the verse for this week, to contemplate and memorize.  Maybe it seems short, but it’s truth is powerful and perhaps a little painful.

Weekend Rerun:

He Rested

Originally Posted on April 26, 2011

“And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done”
(Genesis 2:3 ,NIV).

For months, one week in April glared off my calendar menacingly.  My husband and I focused all of our attention and energy on getting to that week and getting through that week—appointments, birthday parties, wedding, special church services, meetings, and holiday activities piled on top of our normal schedule.

I had the individual events in my calendar circled in different colors multiple times so that I wouldn’t overlook any one of them.   When people asked us about May, our eyes glazed over uncomprehendingly.  May?  What’s May?  As far as we were concerned, finishing April was the goal.

I’m sure you have weeks on your calendar that look like that, too, an overload of busyness, and you hold your breath in anticipation of it, stress when you think about it, and dream about making it through.

But then our week was done.  The last event finished.  We survived.  We drove home.  We rested.

It sounds so easy, really, to say “rest,” and yet for me rest takes great effort.

I’m physically incapable of napping.  Instead of sleeping, I lie awake thinking about all the things I should be doing instead of sleeping.  By the time I finally give up and throw back the covers in defeat, I’m frantic about the wasted time and move faster through my to-do list to make up for it.

I feel guilty for leisure, embarrassed by free time, and apologetic for fun.

Accepting help or taking a break feels like failure and an admission of weakness.

There’s something else at work here beyond just an addiction to adrenaline.  Oh, how I hate for it to be true, and yet digging down deeply enough reveals its ugly presence—-pride.  Truly, it feels good to be needed.  It feels important to be so busy.

When I run around in a breathless pace, doing, doing, doing all the time, I act as if the world depends on me to function, as if me sitting down for 15 minutes would create cosmic meltdown.

And that’s why God, from the very first week of creation, instituted a Sabbath rest.  It wasn’t for His benefit, as if the Almighty God who created a sun, moon, and planet with the power of His words grew weary and needed to sleep.  No, the Sabbath was not for God.  Instead, Jesus “said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).

He created a day of rest for you and me.  It’s a reminder that the universe can exist without our involvement and labor.  It’s a re-ordering of our perspective, so that we remember it is God who is essential and not us.

So often, we forget that our jobs, our families, our ministries, our relationships, our everything depend not on our ability, but on God’s power.
We stress about meetings because we think everything relies on how well we present ourselves.
We plot out conversations because we think the outcome depends on the words we choose.

We think.  We plan.  We do.  We fix.  We busy ourselves.  We worry.  We analyze.  We lose sleep.

God knows the pride that burrows itself into our hearts; the tentacles it wraps around us as we seek fulfillment in accomplishments, in tasks completed, in people depending on us.  I’ve written it before and yet need the reminder of my own words:

I’ve seen many women engage in Busyness Battles with each other.   We ask each other what seems like such a simple question, such as “What have you been up to lately?” or “Have you been busy?”  Then, like a Wild West shootout, we breathlessly list our every activity in an effort to “out-busy” the other woman.  The prize?  The personal pride that we are more stressed than the woman we are talking to.  Don’t be embarrassed to concede defeat and say, “Well, I’ve been focusing on de-stressing. On Sunday, I watched a movie with my family and then read some of my book.” You may have lost the shoot-out, but who wants the title of “Most Stressed Woman” anyway?

I read this week that Craig Groeschel, in his book Weird, recommends a to-don’t list.  It’s a tool for those like me who find inactivity takes effort, to help me choose sitting on the deck while my daughters color with sidewalk chalk over doing laundry or choose pushing my baby girl in her swing and listening to her giggles turn to belly laughs over planning church programs.

This isn’t about rules, regulations and law.  It isn’t about Pharisaical hypocrisy and legalism.  It’s about rest and rest is about a humble stepping aside and the placing and continual re-placing of God in control of our lives.


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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.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King