How to Begin the School Year with Confidence

Originally published Tuesday, 27 August 2013.

This post was first written on notebook paper--scrawled in messy, spaghetti cursive two days before the beginning of school. I'm realizing how much I both struggle with and celebrate transitions.

Little boys in heavy helmets and thick shoulder pads run back and forth on hot turf. Weekend morning sun blazes hot and fiery. These tough little guys. I'm thankful for respite now, on cool grass, in the shade.

I look back on the summer, forward to the school year ahead. It is hard to get up, begin again, and change.

I wrote a  post two months ago detailing four ways to not be overwhelmed this summer--a letter to myself I hoped might speak to the hearts of a few other people, too. I can't say I physically revisited that list throughout the long summer days. I didn't print it out and tape it up on my refrigerator or bathroom mirror. But I tried to return to the words:

  1. Begin each day doing something you love.
  2. Don't think about yourself so much.
  3. Celebrate the "I don't know what to do" comment.
  4. Trust that God is here

I didn't do an amazing job of these things. I kind of failed at the first point, "Begin each day doing something you love"--which for me, in the morning, would be writing and exercising, as these are ways I find myself experiencing God. Some mornings I wrote a little; but most days I slept in and got up with the kids. Some days I got a workout in before breakfast, before Justin went to work. But most days I exercised, with my middle son, only when it fit in with the flow of the day. I missed the regularity of hanging out with God in these ways. But something was released in me when I let them go, too.

And this is how I realize I did number two on the list moderately well: "Don't think about yourself so much." While I was not celebrating the days I didn't have time for myself to write or to run, I was happy to have these moments with my kids, all three, still together under the same roof. We spent many days playing games or reading, or doing fun day trips not too far from home. Last week was spent taking care of three other kids ages 6, 4, and 2, and I praised God for the opportunity to see my children love these kids in the unique way He gifted them to love. He showed me parts of them this mother's heart needed to see.

Celebrating the "I don't know what to do" comments/complaints was helpful, especially during my children's first week transitioning from the packed and busy school day to the long summer days ahead. Don't get me wrong; it was still painful to hear--but I tried not to take on the responsibility of entertaining my kids 24/7.  I tried to not feel the need to always be in control. So sometimes they were bored, for a whole fifteen minutes.  And it was great. Often, it would be only ten minutes before they were involved in something fun and crazy and creative (although I am not thrilled that I am still removing acrylic paint from the stone walkway in the side yard.)

Tomorrow they will head off to school, and the days are going to have more space for me to think and create. But the days will be more busy and full, in others ways, too. Appointments and meetings and get-togethers and homework and sports schedules fill the calendar.

Even with the chunks of time where I will get to sit down and write without having to struggle as much to squeeze it in, I want to keep these summer days--these days of being present and open and breathing deeply of random, unplanned-for-wonderfulness straight from God.

And so the only item on the list I need to hold onto, now--and I believe all other things will follow right on after it--is number four: "Trust that God is here."

I will trust that God is here, and I will awake to His voice and His heart and pursue the things I love . . . because He is here, in me.

I will trust that God is here, and I will love my neighbor as much as I love myself and not think about myself as much . . . because He is here, in me.

I will trust that God is here, and I will not try to control what is His to control, and I will trust Him and listen to Him and heed His voice in the stretched out moments of even busy days.

I will trust that God is here, today, this last day of summer vacation, and tomorrow, my children's first day of school. And I will relax. And I will be folded into His arms. And I will be strengthened by the only Love that holds me up . . . and makes me beautiful and bold and sure.

Do you struggle with transitions? What do you do to stay focused on God and not try to be the one in control? 

This post first appeared at You Are My Girls.