It’s that time of year.
The decorations are coming down and getting packed up, trees are coming down, and heavy sighs can be heard through the process. No, that isn’t the kids that are pouting. I hate to see Christmas go. There is something so refreshing about a new year, though.
A new year feels like a brand new start. The end of the year automatically has us reevaluating things. If you are a mom like me, especially a homeschool mom, you are probably evaluating how far you have come and where you are headed. It is almost as bad as the beginning of the school year when I relentlessly analyze everything and wonder if I chose the right curriculum, secretly wonder if I left something out somewhere, and compare myself to the ideal homeschool mom in my head. You know, the one that talks in a soft “Michele Duggar” voice at all times, never gets frustrated, and understands both geometry and chemistry so she never has to buy expensive DVDs to teach them. She starts every day with a smile, eggs and toast (made from homemade bread and jelly of course), and the perfect devotional. In this fantasy, there is soft classical music playing in the background, a scented candle burning, and EVERYONE has a pencil because if you pack them a supply box with everything they need, they always put it back where it belongs.
But alas, this was about evaluating reality and not a fantasy. Still….
While I am doing all this evaluating, it’s a good time to do a heart check on myself. Where is my focus? Am I poured out or burnt out? For most of us, it’s probably a question better asked on a weekly or daily basis. I want my days to serve a purpose, and not just be stuck in survival mode. Don’t you?
I was recently reading “Discovering God’s Purpose for Your Life” by Beth Moore in which she says “we can live with all manner of tribulation more easily than we can live with purposelessness”. Isn’t it true? There is a difference between hitting the bed exhausted because you feel like you have been poured out for a purpose, and hitting the bed feeling sick and tired of going through the motions.
I started to ask myself what I wanted to accomplish this year, but I decided it was better to ask God what He wanted to accomplish through me, since He has the master plan and all. Not surprisingly, His answer had exactly zero demands for scented candles and classical music filled days of smooth, homeschool perfection. Rather, it had more to do with focus, filling, and grace.
This year, my resolution can be summed up in one word: “abide”. Sure, I could begin a rigorous Bible reading plan, stock up on Bible studies, make an outline (ooohhh better yet- a checklist!) of how to do a better job as a mother/ wife/ homeschool mom/ etc….. but since checklists rarely get checked off completely, I think I’ll keep it simple.
Besides, it isn’t about the number of tasks or even Bible studies I complete in the end. They are valuable, but they are only as effective as the condition of my heart allows them to be.
The real question is will I study like a Pharisee or abide like a daughter?
It is interesting to me that in Philippians Paul describes himself as being “poured out like a drink offering”. In Acts 10 the Bible describes the Holy Spirit as being “poured out” on the Gentiles. In Romans 5 it says the love of God has been “poured out” within our hearts. It makes me think that if I want to be poured out, there had better be some pouring in – or else I will end up on empty. And what mom hasn’t ended a day feeling that way?
Taking care of my heart- learning to really abide- won’t change the fact that someone will always be crying about something, someone will always be missing a shoe, and everyone will stare into an overflowing pantry and declare there is absolutely NOTHING to eat for snack time.
Abiding will, however, determine whether I end those chaotic days poured out or burnt out.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” – John 15:4
“And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” – Luke 22:20