The last holiday of the summer is over.  You might be eagerly awaiting the rhythm that fall brings to your life. Or you may already feel ambushed by the school projects coming home in the kids backpacks, the church and school calendars, not to mention the many extra-curricular activities your kids can so easily acquire.

Prior to each school year I would begin working on the new fall schedule. I thought if I could come up with a system that worked for me, I would somehow figure out the key to managing a stressful life. I tried to be that highly structured and organized wife, mother, pastor’s wife and career woman. I wasn’t overly concerned about thriving. I was just hoping to survive. You know? I think it took me too long to let reality sink in. Not only am I not that kind of a woman, I won’t survive trying to be her and I surely won’t thrive.

My son reminded me recently of my attempts to bring order to our world with the family schedule charts I regularly produced. All color-coded, of course. He smiled saying, “All I had to do was wait a few weeks and I knew the plan would change.” How right he was!  I suffer from schedulexia. (Sure, go ahead and Google it.)

Whether you shine or not in maintaining a highly functioning (or even barely functioning) home and schedule, consider these tips:

  • Acknowledge that God has created and called youWhether you fully understand your calling or not, God knows whom he made when he created you and the purposes he has for you. Who you are, complete with your abilities and lack thereof, is not a mistake. When you are tempted to think your husband or church could really use someone much different than you, remind yourself that the evil one is a brilliant liar. Ask God to give you his vision and his perspective on who you are, not whom you (or others) think you need to be. Think of Paul counseling some modern-day Philippians, Neither being organized nor unorganized has any merit, but faith exercising itself in love that counts.
  • Stop trying so hard. Where do we get this idea anyway that we are supposed to have it all together and be the model of a multi-talented, perfect woman? Proverbs 31, you say? Look again. That passage is not describing women. It’s a hymn to WISDOM, which is perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ (John 1, John 14). Relax a little.
  • Consider the model that Scripture is calling us to.  Like the Apostle Paul, we are to point people to the one person who is and was perfect for us, Jesus Christ. We claim his righteousness, not our own. That means when I unwillingly and when I willingly screw up, I can admit it! I can confess, turn from my wrong thinking & wrongdoing and believe Christ not only covers me with his righteousness but gives me hispower to live differently, freely, openly, at my pace. That’s the kind of model our families and churches need!
  • Screw up more. I’m not referring to sinning more so grace can abound!  I am suggesting you take a closer look at the real you, admitting your failures to yourself and others. And doing it more often. In other words, where are we already missing the boat? Why do you want to look like you’ve got it ‘all-together’ in the first place? Because you love your family? Really? Or does looking ‘put-together’ make you feel good about yourself (without having to lean on Jesus?) Let’s acknowledge it.  More often than not, we excel at covering our mistakes and our sin, even to ourselves. The point is this, as Christ followers we want to direct others as well as ourselves to a real Savior who changes real lives. For some of you this kind of repentance may mean lightening up on following a strict schedule while trusting Christ for both your reputation and for tasks left unfinished. For others it may mean admitting your need for help to follow through on your commitments and trusting Christ for your reputation as you admit this need to others. For all of us it probably means accepting less commitments. If you are in the intense years of church planting, consider what responsibilities you can let go of, for now. Remember, you cannot have (or do) it all, all the time.
  • Get helpLets face it, our families will function better with order in our home. Creating order out of chaos is part of the creation mandate we received when God placed us in the garden (Gen. 1, 2). However, if  bringing about this kind of blessed order has been an impossibility for you, get help! First, consider finding a good counselor. Why? If you’ve been living in chaos, it has already caused relational damage in your marriage.  Secondly, employ a coach to help you develop a simple plan that is workable for you. A good coach will not only direct you in discovering solutions but will be aware how to guide you through doable steps. Third, meditate on the grace of the gospel found in Jesus and rejoice that he speaks, ‘It is finished’ over you. Let that fill your heart with peace and confidence as you face these coming weeks of ‘getting back to real life’.