As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10: 39-42
Hey God, It’s me Lori,
Please give me a way to balance my life. When it is lopsided everyone feels the pain. It all trickles down but when it is balanced everyone feels the joy that too trickles down.
One of my best friends in the world told me a few years ago “Lori you truly have it all. Your life is totally balanced. You have kids and stay at home but you also get to work with all your volunteer work at school and church. You are running so physically you feel good about yourself and you have deepened your faith in God. You have a truly balanced life.” This was at a time in which my husband was not making much money at work and we were literally struggling to pay for the groceries. Her words gave me pause and I realized in that moment she was so right.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father fills them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Matthew Chapter 6
Jesus Christ taught us that it is not about these worldly possessions and in fact if that is what you make of this world then your reward will be here and not in heaven. It is about following his example of selfless love for others. This is a way of living that outside of being a religious people has often been frowned upon. How can a company make money off of helping those who need it the most if they lose money in the process? It is a different way of life that mainstream America does not want to look at in the here and now.
Nobody does it right all the time. But if you are looking for balance it does not come in a pill and I cannot spoon feed it to you in a book. You have to make a commitment to it. To dedicate your life to living it a different way than you have been. If you change it, so that you take time for each of these important aspects of your life you will see a difference in your life. Instead of being the hamster on the wheel you may just start to see your life around you, within you and how you make a difference in this world. God did not put you here to spin in that wheel, most of the time we are stuck with that feeling but you don’t have to be.
The way I try to balance my life can be broken down into several areas:
A) My faith
B) Time I spend with my children
C) Physical Activity
D) Service: Volunteer Work at School and Church
F) Dates with my husband
G) Hanging out with Friends
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
I will start with my faith. You already know so much about it. In order to keep my faith strong and healthy I need to help it by praying to God daily. I read the Bible daily with the Living Word book. It never takes more than 10 minutes. Sometimes I find a chapter I like so much that I just keep reading. I usually read the Bible with my breakfast or sitting out on the swing in the backyard while the kids are playing. I go to Church every Sunday and usually 1-2 times during the week to listen to the Word of God. To hear how the priest will translate the word into a way to live that Word that day. I go to Church to be with a community of believers that support my faith and help to build it up. I go to Church so that my children become a part of this community.
I rely on God on a daily basis asking for his help with my life even with the small things, like giving me patience to not yell. When I do these things daily/weekly I feel my faith is where it needs to be that it is growing and being feed as well. When I don’t pray to God or read the Bible I feel more confused like something has shifted or is out of balance. I am less patient, when I don’t pray for help with it. There are very few times I have missed Church on Sunday and when I do I feel that my week never came to an end and there is something in me that is missing. These daily practices help me to feel whole in my faith.
“Priorities – A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…
but the wold may be different because
I was important in the life of a child.”
Spending time with my children brings balance to my life. I have written about the precious time I spend with each of my children individually as we pray at night time. We also spend time together before school, on the walk to school, after school etc. Summer is the best time for me with my children because I get to spend so much more time with them all day long every day. I am a stay at home mom so I am blessed to have not just quality but quantity time with my children. We try to have a family dinner every evening together. We probably accomplish that 5 evenings a week due to sports practices. I love the time I spend with my children and my husband as a family. We love to bike ride together, play on playgrounds and swim together. Being with my family completes me, refreshes me and always makes me feel warm and cozy inside. I adore my family and thank God for each one of them daily. The more time we spend as a family the more balanced I feel. At dinner time we pray together and talk about our day. We each get to know just a little bit more about each other. It’s easy, it’s common and it’s real. Family time brings balance.
“My life has changed because of watching my diet, exercising, just having a better attitude in life.”
Physical activity is vital to my mood each day. I am a much kinder, considerate and thoughtful person when I have had a chance to run, bike or work out. My running as you read earlier is also intertwined with my prayer time. After much prayer and deep reflection of course I am in a better mood. I also feel much better about myself when I work out. If you work out you know your body craves healthy food, mine sure does. It all comes together. I work out so I pray, I feel better about myself and I eat well, I just knocked out three different things I need each day in one activity.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them the neccessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works is dead.
James 2 14-17
Service to others also helps to put my life into balance. When I serve others I feel like I am doing what God has called me to do. Like the reading above says you can say you have faith but without serving others it is dead. When I first was married and had little ones service was not on my mind because I was serving as a mom and a wife and it is all consuming and I still do. When I became pregnant with #3 I was asked to join a committee at Church and although reluctant at the time my husband wanted to get involved so we joined it. From there my service flourished. I had this nagging saying stuck in my head, I feel sure God put it there, for months. If Jesus came to you today this moment and asked you “What have you done for the least of my people?” what would your answer be. I could not get that out of my head until I started a new children’s stewardship program at my children’s school.
I coordinate the program for the entire school but I don’t do it alone we have the teachers as well as volunteer moms that help with the different grade levels. I enjoy this program so much because the children learn to serve in a very informative and organized manner so that they will remember who they have helped and why. I am very involved with service through this program. I also serve in other ways with the Church.
These volunteer positions help to give me challenges for my mind when for years I felt that I was losing my mental abilities because all I spoke was baby language. Especially through the service program at the school I feel like I am helping to teach the children about serving God by serving eachother. Service helps me find balance in a mommy world that I need desperately. The rewards of service are not even measurable.
“When I think of a retreat, I think of a gift to myself that helps me grow in my love for my God.”
– Mary Fusting
I also balance my life with Retreats. We started a retreat at my church, called Koinonia it is the Greek word for Community, a few years ago. The actual Koinonia retreat is over 30 years old and has been completed in 10 different states. It is a retreat based on Adults Encountering Christ within their own Community. I attended the retreat at my Church with my husband. Then I was invited to serve on the next retreat. Retreats are like a moment out of time for one to reflect on their relationship with God and others. To re-evaluate our place in this world and what we need to change. It is a gentle check point on our on going map of this life. I enjoyed the retreat but what I found that I enjoyed more was serving on the retreats. They even let me be the Lay Director (head) of one retreat. I had 75 people on my team and I was responsible for the organization and overall details of the entire weekend. It was exhilarating. I loved it.
Through the retreat experience I have been asked to give talks to the retreatants. I absolutely love giving talks. I get about 3 months to preapre with an outline for a talk. I pray, research, read the Bible then I write. I have a passion for writing and speaking. After the last talk a sweet friend of mine commented “Lori, it was as though there was a light all around you when you were speaking.” I am sure you know as most people do that one of the top fears of Americans is the fear of public speaking. I was one of those people until I started speaking for the children’s stewardship program, I am the volunteer coordinator of it, in front of the school. When I stared doing talks for the retreats, it was such an awesome experience. I swear to you that I write the words that God inspires me to write and then I give that talk with a passion that is completely uninhibited by fear. I feel that the Holy Spirit takes over and I am just the vessel delivering the words. It is like a complete natural high. I would love to continue to speak for God about what I am most passionate about which is God and His call to me and to you.
The feelings and emotions that I have been able to experience through serving, organizing and speaking on the retreats just completes me as a person. They are excellent outlets for my love of God and to express my faith to others who are actually interested. Retreats and talks I have had the good fortune to give have given me inspiration and exhiliaration. Times to prepare for and anticipate. As good as it is for me and my soul. It is even better for the retreatants who get to experience the benefits of my passions. They come to know the love of those around them over the course of just a few days and become bonded to others for a lifetime. They form family and find the love of God. So as selfish as it may seem that I love the high I get it’s also from giving God to others.
“A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.”
-Pearl S. Buck
Dates with my husband. When my first child Ethan was born I never wanted to leave him so I rarely went on a date with my husband. However, when Anna came along and enjoyed crying I found that I needed that time away for my sanity. Still it was not often. Over the births of the last 2 children we have tried to go on a date at least monthly. We try to go on dates where we can talk to each other at some point. Some of my favorite dates have been when we go mountain biking together. It’s great fun to mountain bike on tight paths and it’s a real rush not to hit a tree. It’s just pure natural fun. Somewhat like the fun I had when I was a kid just riding my bike for the thrill of it. Not to lose weight but to see how fast I could go. It’s great to have a fun hobby with your spouse. Something the two of you can enjoy together.
He also likes to run, he ran cross country in high school and has fallen in and out of running for years. When we run together we have uninterrupted conversations. We also have season tickets to a stage production series, you can get them really cheap if you go on a week night. I like that because then we have something new to discuss that we both experience together. I love to discover new things with my husband.
It is so easy to get to that point in your marriage, especially with children, where your relationship is just the backdrop of your life. The relationship you have with your spouse sets an unbelievable example for your children. Everyone knows that what children witness from their parents they carry into adulthood. My husband and I like to laugh together. We do not call each other names or put each other down with sarcasim. I think many couples do this and it can be a slippery slope. I for one respect my husband so much that I don’t want to insult him even in a joking manner.
It is extremely difficult at times to give any time to our spouse. The more time you invest in your relationship the better it is. We don’t expect our spring flowers to grow without tending them do we? How do we just expect that our relationship with our spouse will grow if we don’t tend to it? I could write a book entirely on this subject. The point I am trying to make is that when my life is in wonderful harmony it is because I am making the time to spend with my husband and renew and grow our relationship.
“A true friend is one who knows all about you
and likes you anyway.”
– Christy Mary Warner
The last thing that balances my life is hanging out with my friends. I really enjoy being with friends that like to run, walk or play tennis with me. I just feel so good and free and open when I am in motion and physically active. Not to say that I don’t have a great time chatting away on the phone or serving others with friends I also do that.
Friends give your life another diminsion because they are not in your immediate framily, you can choose to tell them what you want them to hear or what you want help with. Friends will listen to just your side of the story and give you sympathy and sometimes the tough love you need. As a mom I don’t want to just go off on any of my children so there are times I have to hold it all in. Many days my husband is already asleep by the time I have the children tucked in and all the chores are completed. Friends are the perfect place to go to just talk and talk and talk some more. Another excellent benefit to a friend is that you get to listen to someone else’s story and not have to think about your own. They are great listeners and are simply put just a joy to be around. A good friend can make you feel like a new person and re-energize your spirit.
“Balance, peace and joy, are the fruit of a successful life.
It starts with recognizing your talents
and finding ways to serve others by using them.”
Those are the main things I think are in check when I feel balanced in my life. What balances your life? Everyone feels balance in different ways. I have a best friend who would call me during college, in deperation and say, “everything is going wrong, I cannot concentrate on my studies. I feel horrible about myself. I just don’t know what is going on help me counselor”. She called me her counselor because I was a psychology major and I enjoyed analyzing her problems. I knew her well enough to know that her life was not in balance if she had not read the Bible or been to a park outdoors in a few days. Suddenly she would feel closed in and overwhelmed by life. But as soon as she would take time out of her jam packed schedule and go to a park, sit by a stream and read the Bible and pray she was right bak on track and balanced again. She needed that quiet reflection, a break away from the hectic life she lived. She is now a Psychiatrist with a quiet faith that goes beyond the depth of most anyone I know. I love her for being my friend and I admire her for teaching me that only God can slow down your pace enough to put you back on the path you should be on. She called me to remind her to do just that!
Think to yourself when do you feel complete, balanced or at peace with where you are in your life? Do you take the time to pray on a daily basis? Do you try to exercise a few times a week or do you actually do it? Do you ever take time away from normal life for a retreat? Have you served others outside of your home before? Have always wanted to but never done it? If you have taken the time to serve and realized the fulfillment do it again and again and again, it only gets better. Do you ever reflect on how you are living your life, if your priorities are in the order that you want them to be in? Do you take the time you need to renew and energize your relationship with your spouse? Have you talked or walked with a friend lately?
Get out a notebook and actually answer those questions on paper. Your life is filled with different people, ideas, jobs, respnsibilities and passions. What 6 things can you think of that would make you feel more well rounded or complete as a person? Don’t think to yourself I can’t write that down I’ll never do it. Just write what you are missing and what you need to do to make it better. Then really reflect on those items. Are they things that you can attempt? Are they feasible? How can you make them happen to make your life more meaningful not just for yourself but also for the people around you? God wants you to be happy with your existence and to be able to love those around you. You cannot fulfill your purpose or calling from God if you are so caught up in everyday tasks that you never can slow down enough to catch your breath. So just reflect on this section and those questions for awhile. Really brainstorm, jot down some ideas and let God lead the inspiration and guide you to a balance in your life.