By this time each year, I am exhausted to the bone, have spent all of my emotional cash, given beyond my physical self and likely can be found early mornings stretched out on the couch wondering how I am going to make it through one more day.
I start out well, with good intentions, but sometimes life just happens, actually all the time life just happens and takes us in a direction with demands we didn’t even imagine or count on. This year, I geared up for having jet lag for several days, for having 9 people in my home who would want attention, meals, fun, with expectations of having a wonderful Christmas together—(with me in charge of it all.) I knew it would be lots of giving, serving, loving with lots of cooking and dish washing.
What I did not count on was Lilian, my 9 month old granddaughter, being at the Emergency care 3 times, an ambulance ride with concerned paramedics, a hospital stay 24 miles from my house, with limited cars, and over a week of sleepless nights where everyone was called on to change their plans to help.
And so, another Christmas season has come to an end in its own spectacular way. It is always such a joy with all the people I love at home. ! I love the celebration of life and the traditions and the fun and the beauty of special times spent with my children, husband and friends. But, every year, there is something deeply satisfying to me about getting it all put away and getting back to normal. And every year, I review this habit of mine and rework this blog post because it is one of my favorite things to do to recenter my life. I hope you enjoy my thoughts.
Perhaps it is because my normal everyday responsibilities of caring for my family’s needs demand so much of me—cooking nutritious meals, organizing our schedules, cleaning and organizing on a daily basis, used to be homeschooling and add to that ministry--writing books, doing podcasts, keeping blogs going, preparing for 3 national conferences—these are enough, but holidays put on that extra load. Routines go by the wayside and so the clutter and demolishing of the house, slowly takes over.
Recognize your limitations!
All of us have limitations. If we spend all of the energy, love and serving that we are capable of giving, we must refuel or there will be consequences. Just as a car cannot fun without gasoline, so we cannot get very far on fumes.
I am not a person gifted in handling details—too much mail, too many catalogues, too many emails, too many options, too many things. The more there is, the more I become responsible for, the more work there is to be done, and so, the more anxious I become. Same with activities. The more I commit to, the more I say yes, the more I have to drive, the more my house gets into a mess, and the more anxious I become, the more hurried we feel, and the more weary I become.
When I am not at peace, nothing in our home is at peace.
We can all see how too much clutter and too many piles causes us to feel overwhelmed with life. Consequently, slowly, I have learned to declutter as often as I can—to throw away unnecessary stuff. Clay is really the master at this. He helps me get rid of, organize, and put away things. Yesterday, he decluttered our pantry—threw away chip bags that held little but took up space, cleared out empty water bottles, tossed the last of the junky Christmas candy that would never eaten; fixed baskets that had fallen off their nails, arranged groceries that had never been put in their place. Now if someone came into my pantry, they would mistakenly think that I am an organized person! Thank goodness for Clay! It made me feel good just to open the door and to see that all was manageable again.
Declutter Your Soul
But, I have also come to realize that my brain and heart can be the same way---cluttered with worries, responsibilities, duties, children’s future, finances, time constraints, expectations, disappointments, critical attitudes, resentment.
All of these added together, can tend to create soul piles and mind clutter. If I don’t take the time to sort the piles of mind clutter, my spirit becomes a mess and my heart becomes overwhelmed and weary.
This is what awakened me at 4:00 a.m. this morning--soul clutter and worry. Another reason I like January is the way it gives me an opportunity to make a new plan, to simplify the mind messes and start off a whole new year well. In the same way that throwing stuff away and clearing out closets brings me relief--even more so--soul and mind decluttering brings me rest.
So, as I begin a new year, I resolve to deal with my soul-clutter, so that I may have strength to face each day in peace. I come to the place where I know I will find the help that I need: the feet of my Father. I ask Him to help me, His child, know how to make get rid of the junk that is unnecessary, and to help me clean out and organize my soul.
He speaks to me gently.
*I must get rid of all that causes me to fret, worry, criticize, and control. There is a way....
“In quietness and rest shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 You need to come to me and give me all those things that are weighing on your heart. Resolve to seek rest and peace.
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
List what is troubling you!
*I list all of my issues in my journal (and there seem to be multitudes of clutter piles in my soul--worries, attitudes, bitterness, weariness, fear, sin and a few more!) These are issues that will suck my heart and energy dry if I do not notice them in order to clean out my soul!
The Lord prompted, "List all of your issues, give them over to me, don’t hold on to them. I am capable of taking them from you and being responsible so that you will not be weary or carry what you are not capable of carrying."
Focus on breathing in rest and peace.
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. “ Psalm 37:7
Focus on resting in Me—sit in My lap, rest in My arms. Let Me carry you. I love you. Wait for My timing. Don’t force things or beg Me to hurry up. I am in control.
“Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2
Give Me your attention and get control of your spirit. Be quiet. Be still. Recognize My sovereignty and transcendence. Remember what Jesus said, “Our Father who art in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus modeled His understanding that My will is what you need to rest in. I am in heaven and I see all things—the future, the past, your children, your relationships--all your clutter. Give them to Me. Quiet your soul and rest in My strength and power.
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this receives me.” Matthew 18:3-5
Come to Me as a child—even as your children, in their innocence and sweetness of heart, know that you will care for them and meet their needs because you are a loving parent who cares for them, so I am your Father who will take care of you. Leave the burdens to your Father and take your rightful place as a child. Humble yourself and trust Me. Enjoy Me. Delight in the beautiful moments of this day. Notice the little miracles. Live as an unfettered child. Accept your little and big children and receive them as a gift from Me, and your will indeed receive Me into your midst.
“ ... a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I Peter 3:4
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about so many things. But really one is needed and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10 41-42
Don’t worry and fret and stew and stir up unnecessary dust.
—just one thing I require—that you give it all to Me and love Me. I will take over. Even as I gave and provided a Sabbath in which all of My children should have rest from their work, so I want you to live in My Sabbath rest for your soul. Rest from your striving and labor. Take time for naps, for pleasure, for joy. This day you have to receive as a gift--I can't promise what tomorrow will hold. But today you can love, give peace, speak kind and wise words, dance in your soul with secret pleasure that comes from knowing that I love you. Simplify your life; don’t make choices that will complicate or add unnecessary pressure or cause you to sin or grumble. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” as Paul said.
So, as I yield my lists into God’s hands and de-cluttered my troubled soul, I left feeling that even as my house has been coming to order, after we cleaned and straightened it yesterday, now my soul is moving in the direction of order.
Rest, rest, rest—in quietness and rest will be your strength every day, every year, until you see me face to face. I love you, my sweet girl. Don’t forget that I am with you each moment of today. ~Your doting and loving Father.