Last week on the blog we talked about preparing our homes for the coming Fall season, specifically for back to school. This week we will cover preparing our hearts. Because we can prepare our homes with the most perfect organization strategies and well thought plans in place, but if our hearts are off focus then our homes eventually will be also. And I don’t just mean the physical home, but the people who make it a home as well.
Back to School is the beginning of the hustle. The kick-off to a Fall season full of new routines, schedules, responsibilities, gatherings, and usually stressers. As a teacher and now mama to a school aged kid, I can feel tensions rising as we prepare for school to start. Some of you are already there.
It’s exciting and exhausting all at the same time.
I said this in last week’s post, but its worth putting here again: “ It can be easy to walk into these back to school days begrudgingly, longing to keep all the Summer goodness intact. I don’t know about you, but I want more for us in this season. I propose we treat it with the same anticipation we do the New Year. With all the excitement of fresh starts, healthy goals and new attitudes. Let us walk with grace and grit into this whirlwind that is sure to happen, because we will absolutely not be owned by a season. And if we’re going to do this, then we’re going to need a plan.”
I’m assuming I pumped you up a little there and that you’re ready to join me arm in arm in making this the best Fall yet. So with that I want to ask you—what’s our plan going to be? How are we going to keep our hearts in check as we bob and weave through this season? How will we keep ourselves from the trap of reacting and living in survival mode? If we fail to plan, then we plan to fail.
I have an idea for you. A 50 day challenge. Not like one of those things where you agree half heartedly and then shelf it two days in. (Just me?) Nope, this would be a fully committed and easily managable 50 day challenge to put first your relationship with the Lord—the only One who can make you enough, the only One who can give you the peace and perseverance you so desperately crave during this season, and the only One who can make this season one of chosen joy over obligated anxiety.
The following three points are a the foundations we will need to do this well.
We have to be in the word. This one is a non-negotiable. There is no way we can consistently be thinking in a way that is biblical and God-honoring, if we’re not filling our minds with truth from His word. It’s like learning a foreign language. If you fail to practice and use it, it fades away, becoming harder and harder to remember over time.
I know from experience that when I commit to reading and soaking in the word of God, it transforms me. When I start my day off like that, I’m a little less “hot-mess Tara” and a whole lot more grace-filled—positive and confident in my identity. It’s not a magic formula where you read and then gain super powers (although some days I have felt like that). It’s intentional connecting with the word of God with the intent to grow and be changed for His glory. If you approach the Bible with an open heart and a prayer for God to reveal to you the truth of His word in a way that makes sense to you, He will most certainly provide.
We have to be consistently praying. The Bible tells us that the enemy is constantly watching and seeking to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) I know that sounds totally creepy, but spiritual warfare is real, friends! Denying it doesn’t just make it go away.
Those competitive or bitter thoughts that rise up against a friend, those lies we hear that we aren’t enough, the bickering that arises when we finally get a date night—those are not just coincidences. We have to be on guard, friends. Prayer is our greatest weapon against the lies of the enemy and it’s also one of the best ways to connect personally with your Father. Just like with a friend, the more you spend time talking with Him the closer you feel.
We need accountability. We need those real people in our lives who we can talk with openly and honestly. We need to be able to admit hard things, and to be encouraged by other women. I truly believe that Godly friendship is one of life’s greatest blessings. What’s more powerful than a couple of Jesus’ girls coming together and praying big prayers over one another, over schools, over cities, etc. ??
It’s easy to look at these three things as a list of “to-do’s”, and consider how you’ll ever have time to accomplish them. If that’s where your head is at, then I want to ask you— what’s it worth to you?
We always make time for the things we value.
Do you have 10-15 minutes each morning? Could you bring yourself to wake up just 10-15 minutes earlier than normal if it meant starting your day off in truth and grace?
I’ve created a “Back to School Challenge” to help the woman who wants these things in her life this Fall. Here’s how it will work. We will work through Remain: 50 Devotions to Abide Like You Belong together for 50 days beginning Monday, August 19th. Each day features a scripture focus and devotional entry. You can find the book in my shop (linked above), on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. For those that want to go deeper, I created a file that accompanies each daily entry with questions and more scripture focuses.
The “Back to School Challenge” Facebook group will provide a space for us to interact throughout these 50 days. I’ll post the challenge for the day and leave it open for anyone to discuss insights and thoughts. My prayer is that this group would be an encouragement to your heart and a safe place for your hard moments.
Every single one of us needs vulnerability pouring in and out of our lives. We need that connectedness to Christ and others. We’re simply better together. So, let’s link arms in running toward finding motivation in the mundane, toward living loved, toward giving and receiving grace, and most importantly toward living a life that speaks to the joy we have found in Jesus alone despite our circumstances. Amen?