I accomplished a lot, but there is so much more still to do. So, I am continuing it into November.
My house is still cluttered, but not as cluttered as it was before.
This challenge took on a whole different meaning than I ever imagined it would. It was more about decluttering my attention, my heart, and my involvements than it was about my house.
You see, I will probably always have decluttering to do at my house. I could be consumed by it. It could monopolize my time. By the time I get through the whole house, I need to start back over and begin again. This does not mean that I will stop decluttering my house. If anything, I feel an even stronger need to do it after the events of this month.
What it does mean is that I cannot let decluttering my house become the ultimate goal. It also means that it is not a project that I can isolate to one month. I just can't do it that fast. So, I continue. Lauren and Abby's room, Isaiah and Laila's room, and my room are almost done. I hope to do the finishing touches on them this week. Next, I tackle Cody and Sam's room, my kitchen, and the basement.
The bigger work of simplifying that has happened in my life this month has been a work in my heart by God. With all of the changes in our life right now, new job for Rick and all that means for us, God has called me to step back. This has been so painful for me. I don't want to give up the opportunities for ministry that I do. I don't want to lose that lifeline. I am fulfilled by it.
What I have realized is that really, I am burnt out. Ministry has gotten the best of me and my family has been given the leftovers. I started realizing this back in the spring and took action over the summer. With fall settling in, I have slipped back into my old habits of putting ministry before everything.
I have fought it. I have cried. I have wrestled with God over this one. In the end, I know that He knows what is best for me and my family. Right now, that is focusing on them. I am pulling out of everything that takes away from them for a season. I need it. They need it.
The past week alone has been the perfect example. Over the last week, I have had 3 children with strep throat, 2 more with unexplained fevers, and 1 with severe headaches. That is all 6 of my kids. In addition, I had some kind of cold thing for a couple of days, and now it has hit Rick as well. I had to pull back from commitments. I had to be at home with them.
In the past, these kinds of things were a real irritation to me. They mess up my plans. They keep me from doing what I had on my schedule. Then, I end up feeling more frustrated. That is not fair to my family.
My new mantra: "What HAS to be done today?" Not, "What would I like to accomplish?" The other questions I am asking myself over and over are, "How important is this?" and "Does this really matter?"
This pulling back will be at least a 3-month thing for me. I am not committing to anything new. I am not filling my days with meetings and events. I am finishing some things I have started on a very limited basis. I am going to spend more time at home. I am going to focus more on my kids and husband and ME!!
I need to heal. I need to be healthy. My lack of balance in ministry has damaged me and my family. I am in a downward spiral that only I can stop.
What started out as a very fearful thing to me few weeks ago, now feels like a relief. I am relieved to be able to say, "no." I am feeling some hope about the future. I need to experience those things in my life right now. There are so many things at home that weigh me down because I am too busy to do them. I don't cook enough. My house is always a mess. There are so many projects I never get to. I feel the burden of these things whenever I am at home.
I am determined to make our home a refuge. It should be that way.
So, the October Challenge and all that God chose to do in our lives over the last month has so much purpose for me. It will be hard for me to stay committed to pulling back. I have already had several opportunities present themselves that I had to turn down. It was so hard. Having this avenue of sharing will help hold me accountable.
Jeremiah 15:19 says, "If you return then I will restore you-before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman."
That is what I am going to be about this next 3 months, "returning to my calling and extracting the precious from the worthless!"