What I Learned From My Year Off, Part 2: Counting the Cost

I’m a jumper.

I get an idea, and I’m all, “Yes! Right now, I’m going to do this!” And then life happens, and I don’t. Or I do, and life happens, and oh shoot I shouldn’t have done that. 

I have failed so many times do this one very wise, very practical thing: count the cost.

I remember calling Sally up a couple of years ago with one of my brilliant ideas and telling her we should go for it and we should start right away. Sally, in her wise and gracious and mothering way said, “Have you counted the cost? I have to think about.

What? Count the cost? But it’s a great idea, and someone needs to do it!

We never did it, whatever it was. I don’t even remember.

Then I had a friend of mine challenge me by saying, “Why do you always have to fill your plate as soon as you take something off it?” Huh. Good question.

It was these two women that started the pondering over the decisions I made and my inability to just be.

Right before I took my year off, I was going to start a new website. My husband and I made plans, bought domains, and dreamed together. During this time I was also stressed with all I was doing. I was writing a book, homeschooling, helping with a conference, blogging, and…I don’t even remember. But because I was no longer the owner of the conference, I thought, I can do this whole new thing! The problem was, the reason I stopped doing the conference was because it was too much and my life was being sucked away from me. So what did I do? Add something new that would have been almost as stressful and life-draining!

I didn’t do the site. I decided to go slower when it came to making decisions.

And then, in January, I decided to take a whole year off to think and pray and get some things straight. Which, by the way, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

During that year, the lesson about counting the cost was further ingrained in my heart.

Counting the Cost is Wise and Practical

I only had one thing to do that was required of me and was outside my home: finish my book.

I had walked away from everything else: blogging, helping with the conference, and speaking. But I had to finish the book that the gracious folks at Tyndale had contracted me to write nearly THREE YEARS AGO. No pressure. And let me tell you, writing a book takes so much of me, on top of the fact that I’m a slow as molasses writer when it comes to writing books. Also, there’s the ADD thing. 50,000 words on the same topic? I think not. I write too slowly and my mind moves on before I’ve given myself to the depth.

But I’m learning and growing in this area, sticking with something in order to go deeper with it.

Let’s just say that the second half of this past year was very stressful as I was working to finish the never-ending, completely evolving elusive book. December was particularly difficult because I pretty much rewrote the whole thing in a month. I thought I was going to die.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have learned so much about my capacity, what gives me life and what drains it, and the importance of knowing how to be a women of integrity. All of this has to do with counting the cost.

At this point in my life, I don’t have a super capacity. I must choose carefully where I spend my time and give my energy. I have to know what gives me life and what takes it away. I need to count the cost to see if going forward makes sense for who I am, my family, and my time. It is for this reason that I will not write another book unless two things happen: 1.) God fills my well with a story that I am to share and have the depth needed to share it (integrity in writing), and 2.) I have the time and capacity to write it well. At this point, after my newest one releases in August, don’t count on me putting out another 50,000 word book for a few (or more) years. eBooks I’m good with. Long books, not so much.

Caveat: I am extremely thankful and excited to share with you all the book that I have written, that is truly from the well God has filled. I believe so much in the message, and I’m praying you will be encouraged and inspired to keep on in this life as you taste and see the goodness of the Lord right where you are. 

I have also learned that I love blogging; it gives me life! When I blog for the joy of it and to encourage others, it fills my soul. I also love encouraging women through the use of video; my communication style is really speaking because you can hear my voice and tone and see my expressions and I just love that. This is the color in me that God gave and it is a joy to live it out.

But I also have these precious people in my home that get to come first. I have my husband who is my partner and we choose our life together. It isn’t about me or him, it’s about us. So we move forward together. And then there is my children, my precious little souls who I have the responsibility of raising and teaching and discipling. Motherhood is a heavy, beautiful, intricate gift and it requires much of me. Oh yes, if I can’t be there for my children to minister to them first, what’s the point? I will have no integrity to teach. So I’ll count the cost before saying yes to outside opportunities (Jesus, help me for I am prone to wander). I’ll weigh everything, alongside my husband, in order to discern what is good and wise. We will count the cost.

And then there’s the neighborhood that God put me in. The people here matter to me. I want to invest where I am.

All this to say, is that I have some plans, some slowly thought-over, counting the cost plans that I will share with you in another post (as this one is getting to be too long already).

But know this, I have learned some painful lessons by not counting the cost, and Lord willing, I won’t make those mistakes again.

Love, SM

Sarah Mae

Sarah Mae spends her days home-making, home-educating, writing, reading, and drinking salted caramel mochas. Her family embraces life in the beautiful Amish country-side of Pennsylvania. She is the owner of the community site Allume and the co-host of the national Christian women’s social media conference.