The Secret to Our Sanity

family for blog sanity

Some moments of life are not meant to be forgotten.

The day my baby girl was born blue and had to be resuscitated.

The night I stared into nothingness because I realized what the “something” was that was wrong in my marriage.

The phone call telling me that mama was diagnosed with leukemia.

That midnight I Googled “mucopolysaccharidosis” and realized my daughter had a number of years assigned to her life.

The moment I kissed my mom goodbye and whispered I’d see her in Heaven one day.

The day I watched a baby exit my body far before her time and lose her opportunity of life.

I haven’t forgotten a single one of these moments and you?

Your moments are etched in your mind too. The close calls in labor and delivery… the marital problems and perhaps, divorce… the terminal diagnoses or death of those closest to your heart… the miscarriages… the list could go on and on.

Jesus said we would have trouble in this world. I love what he said next.

But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Take heart! Have courage. Stop relying on your own strength to get you through the trouble and focus on me- I’ve already won.

Those close calls in labor and delivery bring us closer to Jesus. Marital issues are redeemed through Jesus. Disease can be healed by Jesus. Death has been conquered through Jesus. I’ve experienced that no matter the issue, Jesus is the answer.

From those deepest aching places and empty heart spaces, I face choices pivotal to both mine and my family’s future. After years of these choices, I recognize that each one could make me bitter or better.

I can hide behind: “Not me.”

Or empower others with “Me too.

So as a wife and mom to 7, I make the choice to share life- as-is. With our 5-spills-in-one-meal record and revolving front door, with the never-ending laundry piles and an ongoing dishwasher saga, I choose to share my “secret” to “How in the world do you do it?” It is simply that I do my best to focus on God’s Word, where I find strength.   I write as a reminder that each of us experience trouble in all different forms, but with Christ, we are overcomers.

Take heart.

Rachel

PS:  I have an incredible opportunity to compete on GSN’s American Bible Challenge show on June 19th, 8/7c. Hope you’ll watch!

This post is a part of our “Who We Are” Series. For all posts visit,

“Who We Are: The Stories Behind TBM Writers”

Who We Are at The Better Mom

10 Ways to Maximize Moments of Rest

ways to rest

Most of us moms are busy and we say so. And it’s true, we’re learning how to make choices in an age of information overload. When to intake, what to intake, how much to intake…the day seems endless and we’re told that rest is pivotal in our current culture. Today’s  health professionals are reiterating what David penned in song…

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

But how do we accomplish this within the confines and demands of a single day? Today we’re pausing to creatively manage our time and discuss 10 ways to maximize moments of rest. These ideas are designed to simply remind us to take the time to be still.

1. Enjoy a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage without any accompanying digital devices.

Simply choosing to slow down long enough to enjoy refreshment for a few minutes is rejuvenating.

2. Begin the day with quiet time with God.

Yes, this can be challenging with little ones, I know. As soon as they hear a peep, their feet hit the floor. One strategy I’ve used over the years is to pray and read before I even get out of bed.

3. Pause between loads of laundry or other daily housework, schoolwork, or work and just breathe.

A few deep breaths are cleansing for body, mind, and spirit.

4. Take advantage of those moments of waiting that happen throughout the day and close your eyes for just a few minutes if you can.

Waiting in the parking lot? Rest your eyes for a few moments. Placed on hold while on the phone? Just take a moment to close your eyes.

5. Stand up tall and stretch, then sit down in your favorite chair for 5 minutes.

If I’ve been moving at a fast pace all day, then I often will use the timer to make this happen.

6. Take a moment to do something that encourages rest.

Whether this is 5 minutes of reading, playing a musical instrument, no matter the activity, change your pace, slow down, relax.

7. Rest while travelling.

If someone else is responsible for driving or logistics, then take a moment to close your eyes and pray. I often do this when my husband is driving. (not because of his skills, just because I can. J )

8. Stop and listen to your environment.

When the room contains a lot of noise, this can be overwhelming, even if you are accustomed to it. Focus on one pleasant sound and be thankful for it in the moment of rush. My little girls and I will often talk about the birds in the spring and giggle at the conversations we pretend they are having.

9. Remember that you don’t have to close your eyes to pray.

God loves to have ongoing conversations with his children and prayer always brings rest.

10. Laughter brings joy, which yields peace and rest.

Basking in the presence of restful moments throughout the day can prevent the escalation of overwhelming feelings. When the opportunity to rest is before you, seize it and train yourself to be still. You’ll be glad you did!

Which one of the ideas above is one that you want to embrace? And do you have ideas to share that have helped you be more at rest? We’d love it if you’d share them with our community!

Rachel

RacheWojo.com

4 Sanity-Saving Tips for Balancing a Large (or Any) Family

4 tips on balancing a large family

When I was a little girl, there was hardly a time that you didn’t see me taking care of dolls. Lined up in a row, I would talk to them, feed them, change them and you know- the whole life routine. I always wanted to be just like my mom and I feel incredibly blessed that God saw fit to provide my large family dream.

After growing up in a family of 9 children and having a tribe of my own, as part of The Better Mom series on balance, I’m sharing 4 tips for balancing a large household. Can I tell you I’ve not hit the professional household manager mark yet? Please know as you read the tips that I consider myself an experienced learner, but NOT a perfect expert by any stretch of the imagination. With that disclaimer, here we go:

1. Write out a definition of “balance” and be sure it is realistic.

If “balanced” means you can eat food off your kitchen floor at any point in the day, then the definition itself is out of balance.  One of the best illustrations I’ve seen on life balance was a wheel, not a scale. Life priorities should be in the center of the wheel and activities around the outside.  As the wheel turns, activities will vary in position. At certain times of the day, a baseball game might be the top activity or focus. Then when it’s time for bed, nighttime routine needs to be the focus. I like to think of balance as: “living with enough structure for our family to function well, but with enough flexibility to enjoy living.”

2. Keep a family calendar and use it consistently.

Many methods of calendaring are available, whether you use your smartphone, paper calendar, or Google calendar. The method is a preference; the point is to find a system that works well for you and your family. Keeping a family calendar has been a critical component of striving for balance in our home.

3. Set your calendar limitations; do not over-schedule as a family.

With the number of bodies in our household, there is a lot of daily action, interaction and logistics. Knowing who has to be where at what time and making it happen can take its toll quickly. Discover your own limitations and set them firmly; communicate the boundaries to everyone involved. For example, my children know that Mommy and Daddy only allow them to participate in one extracurricular sports activity per season.  This is just what works for us and everyone knows the rule.  Another tip that has worked well for us is to have one day a week with no appointments scheduled during the day hours. For us, Friday has suited well for this purpose. If someone asks to schedule an appointment on a Friday, I simply say: “I’m sorry; our family doesn’t schedule appointments on Fridays.” With 8 people living in the house and multiple others floating in and out, having one guaranteed appointment-free day each week can be sanity-saving.

4. Accept and solicit assistance when you know it is needed.

This point was a tough one for me to learn. I enjoy taking care of my family and I want to do it. All the time. But honestly, I can’t do it well and do it consistently without some help.  As our family has grown and needs have changed over the years, we’ve:

  •  hired babysitters as we could afford
  • accepted help from neighbors
  • requested assistance occasionally from our church family
  • and bartered child care with other families.

It’s not always easy, but in the long run, I can tell you it is worth it. For those you blessed with family members living close by, enjoy their help and don’t be afraid to ask when you know you really need it. Raising a family is a marathon; not a sprint.

There you have it! My top 4 tips for attempting to keep the Wojo tribe lassoed in and still enjoy large family life to the fullest.

I’d love to know: Which one is resonating with you?

Rachel

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

The Beauty of Community

church is peopleA single mom rested her head against the door jam, not knowing what her next step should be. The fridge was empty; the cabinets were bare. The last bite of bread was almost gone and her and her little boy would soon be hungry. She breathed a quick prayer and headed out to church, not knowing how they would survive through the week.

Church is not a place; church is people.

The tiny community church she attended contained a handful of faithful women and from the moment this single mama stepped foot inside the door of the church, she knew that she was loved and accepted. While the loving atmosphere of the church gave her a sense of community, she did not feel capable of admitting her shortcomings to the group. She had learned to pray in this very space and now her faith in the Lord to provide would have to be enough.

Where two or three are gathered…

One of the women in this church was gifted with an uncanny sense of knowing when others were in need. Perhaps it was her own upbringing of living with next to nothing or maybe it was her spiritual calling, either way, her spirit sensed that the single mama’s heart was burdened. This same sensitivity also provided her with the knowledge that the single mama just might be embarrassed to be approached about her needs; she didn’t seem ready to fully open her hurting heart. So the wise woman smiled and gave her a shoulder hug, wishing her a wonderful week.

Loving others sometimes requires giving them time to heal.

But the next day, the faithful leader headed to the grocery store. With 9 children of her own, the woman knew how to make money stretch to feed a family. So after her weekly shopping was completed, she took a portion of her grocery budget and bought groceries for the little family of two- the single mama and her sweet boy. Then after unloading her own family’s groceries, she headed towards the tiny apartment of the single mom where she piled everything on the porch, rang the doorbell, and left as quickly as she could.

The Lord rewards the secret work.

Decades later, the wise mentor became ill. The single mom had an opportunity to chat with her one day. She learned that the dear lady had one fear:  “Who will pray for my children if something happens to me?” And the single mama vowed that day that she would be the one to pray for the 9 children. By name.  Every day.  The wise woman went to be with Jesus not too many years later and the single mama moved to another state.

Each time I reflect on this story, I’m overcome with the beauty-the beauty of community in a tapestry of lives God so graciously weaves. The beauty He creates when two women choose to take everyday moments and act in His love.

Thank you, Bonnie, for praying for me- one of those 9 children- every day.

Rachel

Check out this simple jelly bean Easter poem to share the love of Jesus with your community.

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