Friday, August 20, 2010

Order


"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace..." (1 Corinthians 14:33, NIV)

I don't know about you, but there comes that time every year when I'm ready for the kids to go back to school. It's not that I don't love being around my children or doing things with them. Summer is a treasured time of building memories through fun activities as a family. There are less stringent obligations and more adventures together. And even during the holiday break there are delights that we can indulge in, like staying up late or all-day visits, that we wouldn't be otherwise be able to partake in during the school year. But there's something greatly lacking during that time off.

Even when we were homeschooling, there was definite structure to each and every day. There was a schedule, and that schedule actually brought freedom. We were free of chaos and the stress of continually being on the go. We didn't have so many places to be because our place was in school. That is no less true with our children back in public school. Bedtime, waking time, the beginning and end of the school day, meal time and extra activities all had a regulated place on our daily calendar. Those boundaries brought a great relief to saying "yes" to some things and "no" to others. Each day had clear time lines to it.

This was particularly helpful to me as a mother who is officed in her home. When an individual has an office in their house, they can work all hours of the day or night when it's quiet. However, when there are young children and a new puppy added to that home, all bets are off with the structured work schedule. Summers and holiday seasons, while fun, are extremely stressful for me on the job front. My usual juggling act suddenly has a few more balls thrown into it!

When I feel the guilt of longing for the order of those school days, I take comfort in knowing that God isn't all that fond of my summer chaos either. While our Lord certainly isn't an inflexible legalist, He knows that He created a certain pattern to life for our benefit and His glory. We are happiest and He is most magnified when there are routines and boundaries creating a certain rhythm to our lives.

Doubt what I'm saying? Just read Genesis 1 in the Bible and see the order our Creator put to all He made! He separated water from land and sky; distinguished between different fruits, vegetables and trees; and fashioned various species as well as genders. If that's not order, I don't know what is!
If having a certain tidy, managed pattern is this important to the God of the Universe, shouldn't it also be of value to us? Again, I'm not implying that we should be rigid in our schedules, but having some regular groove is worthy of our attention. Our sense of overwhelm and stress are noticeably improved when we are keeping our lives reasonably organized and under control.
When the idea of merely having the kids back in school is not enough to restore your sense of routine, I recommend enlisting the aid of a certified life coach. While every major city in this country offers some type of local CLC you can connect to, one of my favorites is Joan Celebi of SpecialNeedsParentsCoach.com. When money is a concern, Joan offers tools you can use in your own home that are practical and inexpensive. Besides that, she is the parent of a child with special needs herself, which offers a great frame of reference in offering advice.
Regardless of how you go about it, take some time in the next month or so to enjoy the restoration of that protective hedge in your life. After all, parents whose children have special needs experience enough surprises and chaos throughout the year to keep life plenty interesting!

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