Hope, Strength and “No.”

We can start with the two-lettered word that is hard for me to say, especially to people I care about and especially to things that I enjoy.  Not long after my last post, a friend emailed asking if I would be available to come hang out during a nap time this week.  My friend lives very close and since my hubby works from home, sometimes it works for me to sneak out while the girls are sleeping.  This friend and I emailed back and forth to set up a day where this would work.  As I tossed and turned in bed that night, thinking of how non-stop every day was this week, I realized that I absolutely needed to protect those few precious moments that I have to myself.  I called her the next day and explained that with such a busy week, I just couldn’t do it.  I did it….I said no–to a good friend and to a good thing that I normally really look forward to!  Ugh!  (Thank you, Melissa, for your helpful comment full of suggestions and encouragement to say “no”!)

Fast forward to today…..feeling discouragement over the things that consume my time…..the Bible Study I lead, my kids (going through a “I’m a bad mom” phase), housework……let’s just say a few tears were shed today and some of them were mine.  My husband emailed me some encouraging words from Rick Warren, reminding us that trials produce patience and perseverance.  What most encouraged me, though, was the suggested Scripture reading from Isaiah 40:3.  “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength….”  Suddenly I felt satisfied that if my hope was in nothing else, it was in the Lord.  And I felt relieved to know that He would renew my strength.  Praise-alujah.  😉

Three little things to end my night on: Hope, Strength, and “No.”

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100% does not leave me with enough percentages…..

My life feels split up into about 50 pieces lately.  So many things going on, so many things I should be doing, so many things I feel responsible for.  There’s only so much I can give out on a daily basis and it ends up making me feel like I’m not able to put my all or my best into anything.  Everything is suffering.  Giving 100% to each day might mean that my kids only get 15%, my husband 10%, housework 20%, ministry 20%, feeding my family a good meal 15%, the hope of getting any quiet time with the Lord or getting in any exercise–10%, the extras–running errands, trying to focus on photography, balancing the checkbook, encouraging a friend–10%.  Which means that nothing is getting the effort or attention it needs or deserves.  Which means that I feel like a failure and a loser at the end of every day.  Which means I can hardly catch my breath or still my racing heart as I think of the next day where I’m giving way too little of myself to way too many things again.

I think that one of my least favorite, over-used words is “balance.”  I might live in a different world than all these people who claim they’ve found “balance” in their lives, but my life seems less like a balancing act and way more like a juggling act.  And I really hate juggling.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Four years ago we packed up all of our belongings and moved out of the suburbs to a small little town.  We were ready to get out of the rat race, we wanted to slow life down, we wanted to downsize our living expenses so that I could stay at home and focus on being a mom and a wife.  Somehow the rat race caught up with me here in this small little town.  I typically have less than one day a week where I am not obligated to an activity or a person outside of our family.  Even when we lived in the suburbs and I spent three days a week commuting back and forth to the city to work, I had at least two full days a week that were saved just for me to spend time with our daughter, catch up on chores, housework, etc.  I have less of that “home” time now and I have an extra child in the mix.  I’m not quite sure how that happened or how this year in particular became so demanding.  I’m sure a big part of it started with me saying a lot of “yeses” and not enough “nos.”

Where Do I Go From Here?

Homeschooling begins next year for our oldest daughter and before it even begins, I want to somehow take a snapshot of this moment in time, I want to freeze the sheer panic I feel on a daily basis, I want to remember this stressful time well enough to stay firm in the “home” aspect of “homeschooling” next year.  Commitments for the here and now have already been made and I have to fulfill those commitments.  I can only focus on surviving to the best of my ability and maybe lowering my standards in a few areas so that I don’t completely beat myself up before summer begins.  The only change I can really make is for the future.  I want to promise to myself and to my family to reserve our weekdays for school, family time, and ministry that we can do as a family.  Lord, give me the strength to uphold that promise!  Give me the courage to say no!  And help me do more than just survive until then…..give me the energy and the strength to give as much as I can to what I have before me.