Fall is here and if you’re anything like me, you’re already on overload. School has started, sports are in full swing, church activities are resuming, and the holidays are galloping toward us. Do you wonder how you can possibly do everything you’ve committed to? Do you feel squeezed by others’ expectations, or more likely, what you demand of yourself?

The answer is clear: something has to go, but the question is what?

*I love to garden, but I don’t like thinning because it requires pulling out perfectly healthy plants. However, I know if I don’t make room for the plants while they’re young, they will die later for lack of breathing space. Either that or they’ll mature into warped, intertwined shapes that look more like science fiction characters than vegetables. That must be why Ecclesiastes three, says there is a time to kill.

When we don’t have enough space to thrive and grow, something must be thinned out to give us room as well. Either that or we will see some warped character traits emerging because of our cramped spirit and physical exhaustion.

Over scheduling may not me the only issue. There may be attitudes, bad habits, or even unhealthy friendships that need to be rooted out. It might be time to decline a few invitations in order to plant ourselves fully in the soil of quietness and contentment.

Before you start yanking at random, here’s a gardening tip from my dad: some weeds look like garden vegetables. I remember the day Dad showed me the difference between carrot sprouts and grass before putting me to work weeding the carrot row. I conscientiously pulled every last carrot in the row, leaving in its place a neatly growing line of grass. I couldn’t tell them apart!

A Bible Study or church activity, for instance, may look like a healthy vegetable-sort-of-thing. But it might be the wrong plant for your garden right now. It may sap time and energy God wants you to use reaching a neighbor, caring for a family member, or even, spending time in prayer and personal devotions. The same is true for sports, music, and work opportunities. What looks like a carrot could be a weed; only our Father can tell the difference.

As we move into fall, God has challenged me to hold each day’s schedule up to Him for inspection. He gently pointed out that some of the “carrots” thriving in my garden were actually weeds. So I stepped back from a few activities that were sapping my energy and emotions. I’m devoting each day to His priorities and slowing my pace to a more reasonable level.

It was at first painful to pull things deeply rooted, which I thought belonged in my garden. Now I feel free to flourish in the space God has so graciously provided. It’s good to be in the garden with Him.

*Some material from “Thinning Out” in my book Moments for Homeschool Moms, available at www.amazon.com,  www.abebooks.com, and your local bookstore.