In my last post, I talked about how I, like most working moms, struggle with finding a healthy balance between my most important jobs as wife/mom and my second job that I get paid for. I have spent a ton of time thinking, worrying, and praying over this, because I want to be the best I can be in all areas – and especially as a mom. Over time, the Lord has shown me that, as long as I’m relying on and abiding in Him, He’ll provide the wisdom and strength to figure it out on an as needed basis. His job is to be sovereign, and all I need to do is trust in His providence and step forward in courage and obedience as He leads. But that can be tough to live out in the day to day – we all need a little help along the way! Here are some practical questions and resources I’ve found that have really helped me to gain wisdom in this area.
I’m in teacher education, and we endlessly preach that reflection is one of the most important skills we can have – after teaching, to be able to recognize what worked and what didn’t, and what we will keep and do differently next time, as a result. It’s what separates average teachers apart from the best. And I think most people would agree that reflection holds the same potential for life in general. We just don’t usually take the time or initiative to stop, reflect, and pinpoint the changes that need to be made to help us move forward in our goals – at least until a major crisis makes us stop and put things in perspective.
Here are a couple of questions I found from some different sources that have made a huge difference in helping me discern and make positive changes. I would suggest praying over them and taking as much time as you need – maybe more than one sitting (which it probably will be anyway, if you have young kids, right?!).
- What is your ideal? Break it down into the various areas of your life – family, spiritual life, work, health, hobbies, etc. – and be as specific as you can in writing down exactly what “ideal” would look like if no other obstacles existed – money, time, etc. The bottom line is that if we never identify what our ideal state looks like, then we will never have a chance of getting there. This can be a bit scary, but also so freeing! It may take more than one sitting or even several days to a week’s time, because you may have forgotten what your dreams were in the reality of the day-to-day survival mode. I think a main reason we feel stuck or never achieve our goals is that we don’t think or dream big enough – I have absolutely been guilty of this and several virtual “mentors” (listed in resources below) have helped me move past this mode of thinking.
- In the past [month, 6 months, year, etc.], what has worked, and why? This sounds so simple, but it’s really, really powerful – and the next question as well. We forget to affirm our efforts and improvements, and self-image is crucial to success.
- What hasn’t worked, and why? I think this is so powerful, because we tend to assume that we already know the answers, but if you really prayerfully reflect, you may be surprised at obstacles or strongholds in your daily habits that you never before realized were holding you back.
- What practical steps within your control can you take to change what isn’t working?
- What commitments do I need to say “no” to, in order to achieve my ideal? Is there anything I need to add? Jot down the necessary action steps to make this happen.
One of my lifetime best friend’s shared this blog post about motherhood with me a couple of months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. (Warning – Have your tissues ready!) It has made such an impact on my perspective toward all the little moments of motherhood. It is so true that the days are long but the years so short, but it’s hard to fully realize that on a daily basis until our kids get a little older. I now pray Psalm 90:12 daily: “Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.”
The Best Yes – I mentioned Lysa Terkeurst’s recent book in the last post, but it’s worth sharing again! As a working mom herself, Lysa’s transparency in sharing her real life successes, failures, and wisdom is amazing. A must-read for all moms in today’s over-busy world. I get a lot of books on my Kindle, but I wanted this in hard copy so I could mark it up.
I first found Kat Lee’s blog, Inspired to Action, five years ago when I was a brand new mom, and the wisdom I’ve gained from her has truly been invaluable. She is super down to earth and has such a gift for presenting the truth in an encouraging way that gives grace to the place where you are while inspiring you to become a better mom.
Kat also started the Hello Mornings challenge, which is a wonderful way for non-morning people (like myself) to get accountability (through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram groups) in creating a morning quiet time for Bible study, planning your day, and exercise. I’ve been involved for several sessions, and it’s nothing short of life changing! She also wrote an awesome free e-book, Maximize Your Mornings, located on her blog.
I got into podcasts while commuting to work 2+ hours for the past three years, and now, it’s my favorite method for making dishes and laundry more fun. 🙂 If you’re not familiar, a podcast is basically like a radio show that you can listen to “on demand.” All the ones I listen to are free. If you have a smart phone, there’s an app called “Podcasts,” and you can search inside it, and many podcasters also link their content back to a blog as well. Here are some of my favorites:
This is Your Life – Michael Hyatt has so much practical wisdom to share about being intentional in every area of life. I love that he is both a Christian and highly successful in both his career and family life. Lots of great stuff on productivity, goal setting, self-care, and more.
Inspired to Action – Each episode is an interview with a mom related to a specific topic. So much inspiration. Some of my favorite episodes related to balance were Sally Clarkson, Lysa Terkeurst, and one (I can’t remember the name, sorry!) called “Talk more, tech less.”
The Ziglar Show – I just discovered this one a few months ago, and it is amazing. Hands down, Zig is the most inspirational speaker you’ll ever hear. He’s also a Christian and fellow Southerner (from MS), so he has an awesome accent. 🙂