Determine my steps: Pause, look, consider, and rest in the Lord

Written by Bethany McMillon
Published on July 20, 2021

His wavy, blonde hair was damp and tousled, and his cheeks were flushed. I couldn’t help but smile at both signs of a quality afternoon nap as he reached for me to pick him up. 

I pulled him into my lap, then leaned back on the barstool. He snuggled in against me. His fingers twirled through my hair as he finished waking up, and I finished watching the lecture video for my online class. 

His hair still smelled faintly of chlorine after his swim lesson this morning. His blue eyes were still glassy with sleep. I kissed the top of his head and shut down my laptop. 

“Wanna go bye-bye?” I asked him. “Momma needs a Dr Pepper.” “Momma needs a Dr Pepper?” he repeated. I grinned. 

His sweet voice had tattled on our afternoon routine to his daddy last night. As we loaded him into his car seat the night before, he’d pointed at me and repeated the phrase he’d heard me say several weeks in a row about mid-afternoon. 

It was an easy errand, a drive-thru soda stop to get out of the house and change scenery for a few minutes. My husband turned around and grinned, “Is there a habit I need to know about?” he had teased. 

We like to know the plan

My boy climbed down from my lap, and I sent him to find his shoes while I plugged in my laptop to make sure it was charged and ready. I had a paper to finish this evening, and I much preferred to work at the kitchen bar. 

We loaded up. I strapped him in and chatted about what all we were going to do. One, we will drive through for a soda. Two, we will pick up the dry cleaning. Three, we will head to the grocery store. “One… Two… Three,” he echoed in the backseat. Even at three years old, he liked to know the plan. 

He’s not alone. I like to know the plan. 

One, I will finish my teaching certificate and teach in the same district where I’m already known. Two, I will finish my Master’s degree while I attend the school district’s Leadership Institute. Three, I will apply for and be named an assistant principal, then a principal. 

We will raise our son here. This will be our forever home. 

Eleven summers ago, I stood in the middle of step two in my plan. One year later, ten summers ago, I postponed step three indefinitely as we moved across the state and shuffled our lives together to face the choices and changes we’d chosen. 

This year, a decade later, my summertime rhythms and routines still look different than the school year—there is no official workday to close. Instead, as afternoon shifts to evening, I begin to pack away the project I’ve worked on and focus on the evening ahead. 

Anxiety and God’s will

The pace of June feels slow and quiet. Restorative. Daily rhythms of Bible meditations, reading, writing, walking, and connecting with a few friends. But then, the worry creeps in. 

What will next school year look like? How do we parent a high schooler? Am I asking the right questions to guide him? Am I giving him space to grow? Have we scheduled enough this summer? Have we scheduled too much? How do I connect with my husband, so we build our marriage as well as be parents? 

Sometimes Bible verses get jumbled up in my mind. “Do not be anxious” gets overshadowed with “testing and approving God’s will—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” 

Rather than “thinking on such things” as those that are excellent and praiseworthy, my heart searches for and hammers out a plan. I’ll say this if he says that. I’ll do this if this thing happens. I’ll control my reaction in this way. 

My mind spins and reaches for the power to hold tight to a future plan. 

A plan for today only

His hair still damp from a post-work-out shower and his cheeks pink from not enough sunscreen at his youth group’s day at the lake, my boy bounds down the steps. “What are you thinking for dinner?” he implores as he opens a package of peanut butter crackers. 

I swivel my chair in our home office to face him. “Pasta,” I answer. He smiles and nods in approval, then leans down to kiss my head. “Hey,” I continue, “before dinner I need you to do three things: scoop the dog poop, take out the trash, and finish putting away your clean clothes.” 

“Yes, ma’am,” he agrees. “Three things….” I hear him whisper as he walks away to complete his tasks. He has a plan. 

Likewise, my plans need only be for today. “For tomorrow has enough trouble of its own…” The Lord’s gentle reminder seeps into my restless soul. 

I’ll pause. I’ll look. I’ll consider. I’ll rest. 

“A man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 BSB).

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Bethany McMillon

Bethany McMillon is a coffee, football, and ice cream lover from Frisco, TX.  She adores her number-loving accountant husband, her growing too fast boy, and her full-time work as a school librarian.  She daily strives to notice God’s mercy and grace in the small moments of life and is most passionate about building relationships with both Jesus and those that are closest to her.  Bethany writes most often on her website, www.bethanymcmillon.com and on Instagram @BethanyMcMillon.

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