Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Calendar Tetris

You know the game. You try to fit each piece in place perfectly to earn as many points as possible before the page fills up and it all shatters apart.

This is my life in high school.

This past month has been exciting, stressful, exhilarating, overwhelming, fun, and emotional. Twenty-one days into March and I’ve already run through most of the available emotions.

We hadn’t realized it, but we’ve been steadily adding activities to our schedule since January. More youth group events, Bible studies, sports, hanging out with friends, and the usual timewasters like Facebook and Fruit Ninja on the Ipod (My high score is in the six digits. Yes, I’m that good…at wasting time.)

All the activities, except maybe the screen time, are good activities. But let’s face it, sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for family life.

Calendar Tetris. This is what my dad calls it when we’re so busy and that we have no time to relax and spend time as a family. When we’re hopping from one activity to the next, going from schoolwork to sports to church then to bed. We do it because we don’t want to miss out on anything, but there is little peace and no relaxation when we get caught in this cycle.

On Sunday afternoon my dad called a family meeting. He brought up the point that we (especially my brother and I) have been over-committing ourselves to a lot of different events. My dad said that although all the activities and groups we have been a part of are good, we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. We’ve given so much of our time that there is very little time left for family.

At the family meeting we each listed the 5 things most important to us. Oddly enough, most of us came up with the same priorities.

1. Our faith, specifically time spent in God’s Word together in our home, but including a feeling of commitment to the community church we are a part of.
2. Family Fun, including bonfires, biking, walking to Kaleidascoops to get an icecream; simple things that don’t take a lot of time, but make a good memory and draw us close.
3. Education. A no-brainer. As a home school family, this is always a top priority.
4. Sports, particularly our Osseo team sports throughout the year. Added to this is a desire for our whole family to be physically fit.
5. Our extended family and friends.

When things start to get really busy, it helps to have a meeting like this to get us all on one page so that we can make decisions about what gets added to our calendar. We take each activity and measure it against our list of priorities and all of a sudden making decisions on what goes and what stays isn’t nearly as confusing. Our resources of time and money only get put toward the priority areas.

So if you are as busy as we’ve been over the past few weeks, call a family meeting. You may be surprised by how similar you and your family members are in your priorities once you’re all on one page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Let It Go

I have the problem of holding onto my anger. Sometimes it’s just because I feel I have a right to be angry at someone. They hurt me, were unfair to me and I’m entitled to my anger, right?

What I’ve realized is that the only thing that my anger accomplishes is draining all my energy out of me, making it harder to reach my own goals and take care of my responsibilities. It holds me back from accomplishing the things important to me, like my school work, maintaining my friendships, sports, my faith, and my blog.

I’ve learned to think of it this way: I need to forgive others, just like I want them to forgive me. I have no right to be unforgiving of other people’s shortcomings because I don’t like the feeling when others hold my shortcomings against me.

I have a trick that helps me forgive my friends or my family when I’m upset. It’s hard, and I grit my teeth while I do it, but I do it anyway. Every time I think of that particular person, I close my eyes, and pray for God to BLESS THEM. And I mean seriously bless them. I pray for God to bless them in their academics, to bless them financially and to bless them in their friendships. I pray for them to be loved and accepted by the people in their lives.

It’s HARD.

If I’m honest about it, I have to admit that I don’t mean it at first. I have to pray for God to help me mean it. But after a couple days of doing this, it gets easier, until all my anger has gone away and I only feel kindness towards that person.

The result of forgiveness is a huge weight being lifted off my chest. All the time I spent thinking about how I was wronged can be used spending time with my family, getting my schoolwork done and enjoying all the blessings God has given ME.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Life is a Minefield

I have decisions to make and I don’t know right from wrong. No matter what I do, someone could end up hurt. What am I supposed to do when there is no black or white, only gray?

It has been a week like that. A week where I don’t have clear direction. The decisions I’ve made today might be the wrong ones, but I really have no idea.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Yet I didn’t know which path to take today.

Things are just not always in my control. When circumstances come up without a clear right or wrong direction, I can only guess what my next move should be. Maybe it is because I am young, but sometimes it feels like one step in the wrong direction can cause my whole life to blow up in my face. This causes me to desperately look for solutions, believing that any action is better than no action at all.

Today I prayed, I sought the advice of people wiser than I am and I cried until my family begged me to stop. After a long, emotional day, I remembered that I do know a few things for sure. I know I love my family. I know I love the friends I have been blessed with and I feel loved in return. I know that my God is in control and my world really isn’t coming down in my own little apocalypse.

My life is a minefield, but my life is still good.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.