"But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands." ~Psalm 31:14-15 (AMP)
I love looking through old photos and reading old blog posts. I love to look back on the days when I had little, little babies. To remember the days when we had no schedule, no place we had to be on most days. Days when I just sat on the floor to play or at the table to color. Impromptu trips to the library for story hour or an afternoon at a park. Or even a picnic lunch in the backyard followed by hours of swinging and sliding and running. During those days I had time - or rather took the time - to bake cookies and muffins and other little treats on a fairly regular basis.
If I'm not careful, though, I can get caught up living in the past. Obsessing and dwelling on all the good memories of those days.
But not every day of those years were filled with feelings of bliss and content. When I am really honest with myself I also remember the lonely afternoons of a stay-at-home mom, the afternoons I desperately needed another mom to talk to, or the moments I longed for an activity other than changing diapers and washing bottles and sippy cups and the other daily tasks of a homemaker.
It's those moments that made me feel I needed more. To have a complete and happy life I needed to fill up my time and my family's time with busyness. And so I did.
Today I have a kindergartener, a preschooler, a part-time job, and a church with which I am actively involved. Most of our days are filled, filled, filled with one activity after another. School functions, homework, children activities at church, women's Bible study at church, teaching Sunday school, dance classes for both girls, work, meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning house, cooking dinner, packing lunches, taking the dogs to the vet, administering our senior dog's daily doses - I could go on and on, as most moms could. It's no wonder I feel overwhelmed. It's no wonder at the beginning of the year I felt like we had taken on way more than we could handle and our chaotic life needed simplifying. Even more accurate, at the beginning of January I was ready to quit everything, and I mean everything!
This Let.It.Go. study has opened my eyes and heart to so much already but when I read the title of Chapter 7 - "When Your Schedule Screams (and You Want to Scream Too)" - I knew Karen had to have written this chapter personally for me!
"At every turn is an activity (many worthwhile) begging and beckoning us to blessed busyness."
"Maybe, just maybe, if we got intentional about weeding out commitments and obligations before the schedule started its bossy chant, we wouldn't need to seek such control in the first place."
(Chapter 7, page 140)
"Intentional." When I set about to fill up the life of my family, I missed out on the key point of being intentional about it. I have overfilled my schedule with activities and tasks that are not necessarily bad things, but I did it for all the wrong reasons. And I was trying to fill a void I was feeling, a void that no activity can fill, but one only God can.
Karen gives us several tools in this chapter to help us "trim the fat off our schedules" (I so love the phrasing of that). While some of my responsibilities can not be cut out, so many of them can and others can certainly be managed more efficiently (see Chapter 5 "Micromanaging instead of Mothering" and Chapter 6 "Hovering Over the Home").
My favorite - Stand back and ask, "Why?"
"Don't sign up for every happening without a valid reason."
My other favorite - Say yes because you feel called, not because you consider yourself capable.
"Resist answering in the affirmative unless you know God desires for you to serve, give, lead, or teach in this area."
All of the tools Karen gave us in this chapter are great. I have taken some time to review all of the activities that fill our family's schedule using these tools and have come to the conclusion there are a lot of changes to be made, whether it is an activity we need to cut out completely or a matter of allowing other members of my family the opportunity to take on a responsibility around the house.
I am hopeful and encouraged my family and I can take some time over the next few weeks and months to assess our schedules and our activities together and make some important decisions, decisions and changes that will benefit all of us.
"When we don't feel stalked and chased by our schedules, we're more likely to find a place of calm and order." (Chapter 7, page 143)
Sounds exactly what this Momma and the Lingg family needs!