I made my New Year’s Resolutions today.

No, I’m not late to the game, or early as others might view it. Like all of us, I grew up on the school calendar, with the school days vs. vacation days determining my fate. But unlike others, I never outgrew this schedule. I graduated from college and began doing youth ministry, creating separate events and schedules for the summer months than when school was in session. Then I had kids and within a few quick blinks (technically 5 years), I was back on the August – May schedule.

On the kids’ first day back to school, I block out the day to evaluate my priorities, adjust my calendar, set goals for the upcoming year, dream, and listen. I’ve had this tradition for four years now and let me just say I absolutely love it.

Truth be told, it didn’t start as something so lofty. I simply needed a distraction, something to keep the tears at bay as I kissed my littles goodbye and entrusted them to someone else who would spend countless hours with them over the days and months. I could stuff the emotions long enough until I made it to the hike oasis, or so I told myself.

But here’s the thing: this year, there weren’t tears. Not even the threat of them even despite my Girlie starting high school (gasp). I know the next few years will blur past as she’ll be driving before I know it and having the ability to be out of the house a lot more than she currently is. Gone will be the days of me picking her up from school, of hearing about her day as we drive home. She’ll be working before I know it, learning great traits, but also being out of the house more. And then, well, she’ll be gone, gone. We both know the odds of her going to college in Colorado are low.

So while I could moan this slippery slope we’re approaching, it gives me all the more reason to evaluate. To ask what is most important right now and what needs to wait. It makes me be diligent in managing my schedule so I can make sure I give proper attention to the things that most need it, while making me dig deep into the things God is pressing on my heart–both for my own benefit and to demonstrate to my kids that this mama will press on, even when the God nudges push me faaaarrr beyond my comfort zone.

Today was Freshmen Orientation, meaning my Girlie didn’t need more than a few bucks for lunch and her schedule. I, however, dusted off my backpack (ok, not really. I just hiked with it being dirty. Oh, well), packed my lunch and snack, grabbed my journal, brought a notebook, and of course I loaded every color of pen in with my gear because you just never know what color you’ll need to write in when scheduling. And then there was the raincoat, a valuable lesson learned on Annual Tradition Year 2.

Yes, I lost a day of work today, but I gained so much more. Once-dreams resurfaced. Fears were set to rest. I began cultivating plans for a special getaway with my Girlie while cooking up some ideas for what will fill my Bubba’s love tank.

And, of course, I saw some pretty amazing things.

Can you see the bighorn sheep?

Moms, raising kids is no small feat. Entrusting them to a stranger to let them speak life into them takes infinite amounts of courage. Be brave, mighty warrior. The newest part of my tradition is that I went to Starbucks this morning between dropping off the high schooler and going to see my Bubba on his first day of elementary school. Armed with my journal and those colorful pens, I wrote out some of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever extended over my kids, praying for their friendships, teachers, safety, confidence, self-image, and anchors to Christ. Yes, it still took courage to hand them over, but this caffeine-induced prayer reminded me just who I was handing them over to: someone more in control than I could ever be.

Here’s my challenge to you: I know it feels self-centered to take time for ourselves, especially when there are so many important things vying for our attention. But here’s the deal, if we don’t invest in ourselves, we won’t have the fuel to most effectively pour into those we love. So I challenge you to create a time and place to have some you time this week. What do you say? Are you up for it? If so, please comment about what you did for you and what you learn.

Savoring the journey,

Stacy Voss