January, we welcome you.

Even with your freezing temperatures and your howling winds and your snow drifts, we’re super excited to see you on the calendar once again. We’ve had all we can take of merry making.

Here’s our new backyard. I wish you could feel the 10 degree air, as that gives it a very nice Michigan touch. We haven’t seen the grass since Christmas Eve.

I’ve seen one universal thought on my social media feeds this last week: “WHEN WILL YOU SHORT PEOPLE BE RETURNING TO SCHOOL, pray tell?”

I’ve seen mothers hiding under the basement stairs to find a moment of peace (click here— it’s worth the time), I’ve seen fathers as far as the UK begging school to begin again, and innumerable posts from people snuggled up in their homes with their children because the snow outside is up to their armpits. For days and days.

Listen, I enjoy sleeping in as much as anyone else on the planet, but I also am ready for our regular routine that keeps the wheels from falling off our family bus.

School? Yes, please. Even though this requires me to alight from my resting chamber at 5:30 each morning, I am ready.

Regularly scheduled evening events? Bring them on, baby.

Teenagers who have structure to their days and homework for their nights? Amen and amen.

Captain Kitty approves of the new house, mostly because he’s allowed inside again. (There’s no carpet for him to destroy with his bodily fluids.) He has, so far, not abused our trust.

As if the holidays weren’t enough, we moved into our new house in early December. This means it took us two weeks to locate our underwear and a decent knife, which really threw us off. (Just kidding. We kept careful track of all underthings and sharp objects.) And then there was a retreat that I chaperoned and the kids attended. And then, and then….

It’s time to get back to normal, is all I’m saying.

The Christmas decorations came down the first of January and the kids are just finishing up the last of their wild Winter Break activities. Audrey’s sleeping off a lock-in (God bless the adults who stayed up all night with those kids) and Caleb will be returning from a sleepover soon. And then tomorrow we do nothing but prepare for the grueling, delightful, terrible, perfect week of school that awaits us.

It’s going to be brutal.

But so, so necessary.

Here’s everyone’s favorite place in the house. We haven’t been brave enough to try the fireplace yet, but maybe we will soon?

I don’t know about you, but my spiritual life thrives under the ordinary routine of regular life. When I know I have twenty minutes here to read the Bible, and fifteen minutes there to pray, God and I really have time to communicate. Then I also have regular time to write, to arrange my thoughts, and to ask God which of those thoughts will benefit you, the reader.

That’s my writing goal for 2018– to prayerfully seek what will meet your needs. I’m boldly asking God for insight on what he needs me to write because you (and I!) need to hear it. I’m so excited about what this year has in store for us all!

But none of this stuff happens when I’m in the middle of moving/partying/Christmas cookie eating/hosting parties for fifteen.

All of this happens with routine, schedules, and time to think.

Here’s a quote from my new book, which comes out in late February:

Jesus could have done a lot of things, but he chose to pray. It was that person-to-person connection with the Father he needed more than anything else. (I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars, pg. 88).

It’s not possible for us to use Jesus’s example for every part of our daily lives. For example, the Lord did not have to carpool five children to hockey practice three nights a week, or fold twelve loads of laundry on a Saturday, or scrub mildew off the tub. But this, this we can do.

Now that the holiday chaos has passed and our regular routines are starting back up, we can make sure to include the time we need to pray and spend direct time with the Heavenly Father.

This could be the greatest year yet, if only we put the right things first.

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:35-37, NLT).