By guest author Marcia Washburn
And so it’s January — that month we face with combined anticipation and dread. We’ve negotiated the busy Christmas season and, perhaps, have some new ideas and new equipment (Christmas gifts!) to try in our homeschools. But the thought of slogging along for another five months may bring dismay to even the stoutest of hearts on some dreary winter days. It’s time for a mid-year makeover.
Out with the old.
How does your house look? Have you found new homes for all those Christmas gifts? If they don’t have an assigned spot in your home, your new belongings will become a curse not a blessing, always in your way. Have you passed along items and clothes no longer needed now that you have all that new stuff?
A cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. It is hard to think fresh thoughts with old projects staring you down at every turn. Are there projects that once interested you but now just make you feel guilty? It is not a sin to pass along a half-finished cross-stitch to someone who has time to complete it.
Are you saving magazines and newspapers to read “someday?” Discard anything that is already outdated and schedule fifteen minutes a day to catch up on the rest. Select a place to store keeper magazines so they’re not sitting in piles around the house. As you read magazines you know you’ll want to keep, attach a sticky note to the front to list articles you think you’ll refer to later. You might even type a list of those article titles onto your computer so you can actually find them when you need them. Better yet, scan the articles to save to your computer and ditch the print copies.
We not only need to get rid of old stuff, we need to boot the old attitudes that clogged our relational arteries last year. Have you struggled with a certain child? A certain subject? A personal character fault? Now is the time to start fresh. Get rid of those things you’ve dragged into the New Year that should have been left in the Old Year.
Clean out that refrigerator-full of questionable leftovers and haven’t-used-this-since-I-made-that-recipe-nobody-liked-three-years-ago stuff. You don’t need to store emotional garbage either. Bitterness and resentment will poison you just like moldy meat. Move on.
Why do we hang onto attitudes and habits that drag us down anyway? They’re like that extra ten pounds we gained from too much eggnog and chocolate fudge over the holidays. Talk with that child you’ve been struggling with. Tell him you want to start fresh. Help both of you to visualize it by using a white board to write down areas of disagreement from the past. Then, one-by-one, erase them, saying “I forgive you for this hurt/attitude/action.” As new challenges arise, don’t be tempted to dig up the old, forgiven ones. Just deal with the present conflict right away. Keep short accounts with each other; don’t pile up emotional debt — choose a debt-free life, except for the debt of love which is never completely paid.
First things first.
Spend time together with the Lord each day before starting the academic subjects. If an emergency arises, you will still have spent your time doing the most important “subject” of the day. Don’t let academics become an idol in your home. Put God first.
And don’t neglect your personal time with the Lord; you cannot lead someone where you haven’t been. The time you spend in studying the Bible and in prayer with your children is precious and vital, but it does not replace your one-on-one time with Him. Your children must understand, by your example, that a regular quiet time is a part of the Christian walk for all believers, not just another school subject that they will outgrow when they graduate.
The joy of the Lord is indeed your strength. As you clear out the clutter in your household, your head, and your heart for your New Year Makeover, turn to the One Who promises you that His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!
Watch for Part 2 of this article coming soon!
© 2009-2016 by Marcia K. Washburn. This article revised from one that originally appeared in Home School Enrichment Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2010 and is used by permission. Visit www.marciawashburn.com for more articles, to receive her free newsletter, and to find out how to invite Marcia to speak to your group.