How to Write Books with Babies In Your Lap (Giveaway)

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

You don’t.

You don’t write books with babies in your lap, you don’t even check your email because four boys are honking your nose and pulling at your hair and coffee spills all over the overdue bills on your desk and you wonder again, why you said Yes.

Why you said you’d take in your friend’s two children when she called saying she couldn’t do it anymore, she couldn’t be a mom anymore. And rather than see that one-year-old and three-year-old go into the foster system you said you’d take them in, in addition to your six-month-old and his two-year-old brother.

Because some things are more important than sleep. Or a hot cup of coffee. Or that novel you’ve just been contracted to write because of course, you finally got a contract right after you took the boys in. Because God cares more about the least of these and he’ll reward you for it, too.

But it doesn’t feel like a reward. Especially when one of the boys forgets to lock the gate behind him and your six month old tumbles down the stairs in his walker and you grab him, weeping, you run with him to the office and close the door and hold your baby close to you and sob to God, I can’t do this.

Rock your baby and sobbing, and then somehow, God reminds you that you can. And you rise, open the door, turn on some music for the boys in the living room and they run dancing around the coffee table.

The story only gets written because you hire a nanny–a Dutch girl from your hamlet who makes homemade pasta noodles and laughs with all of her upper body and brings crafts to do with the boys. She brings her keyboard and songs fill the insides of your walls and she makes you mugs of tea and you call her Angel.

But even as the characters begin to form on the screen in your Word document, even as the plot thickens and you try to avoid those excessive adverbs and cliche descriptions, you hear the boys laughing outside the office door.

And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they’re no longer climbing all over you, they’re climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?

These four boys whose noses and legs never stop running, who never get enough stories at bedtime, who always want more songs and more snuggles and more glasses of milk and more of you.

boys in the corn

All you’ve ever wanted is to be a published author and now you have the chance and you can’t help thinking, this isn’t what life is about.

It’s incredible to be able to make up stories but it’s even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. “Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge,” he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.

Catherine Wallace writes, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Yes, I write books, but I don’t make a living from them. I make a living from being a mother and a wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story: the Dutch-German man I fell in love with back in Bible School, the one who converts his car to run off vegetable oil, who cans his own salsa and snowboards mountains. Who hikes up his pajama pants and dances for me in the middle of the living room, who throws his boys on the bed and eats their tummies, who downloads Parenthood for me and goes geocaching with me and kisses me like he means it.

And the two Filipino boys who now only visit us once a month because they’re back with their mama, and she thanks me every week for saving her life last year, and my biological sons–the ones I wasn’t supposed to be able to have–who make me feel famous every time I enter a room. Who squish my cheeks together in their dimpled hands and say, “I lah you Mama.”

This, friends–this is the story worth telling. The one we’re in.

novel ad

I am honored to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces--which releases this month–today to you friends… it’s about a woman like me, named Clara, who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved.

From the back cover: “It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.”

If you want to win one of two copies, just leave a comment below and we’ll choose two winners within the week. Otherwise, you can download a free chapter and purchase the novel HERE.

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

Finding true balance by letting God move us

How can we possible manage it — this idea of balance — when we’re pulled in a thousand different directions?

We shift roles by the hour, sometimes by the minute or second.

We not only shift, we multitask — mothering, ministering, shopping, working, cleaning, nurturing, encouraging, and teaching, to name a few.

Honestly, balance seems laughable. As unattainable as spending our entire lives en pointe, perfectly positioned on the tips of bruised toes with smiles that belie our efforts.

enpointe

But I wonder if we’ve misunderstood this balance thing.

Instead of seeking to put each task, each responsibility in its perfect place where it takes up just the right amount of time and energy… instead of putting prima ballerina expectations on ourselves and our schedules, maybe we should consider a new possibility.

Balance isn’t finding the perfect position; balance is allowing God to move us.

Like the ocean tides ebb and flow, like the trees bend in the wind, we too are called to flex — finding balance in gently swaying back and forth, rather than in some elusive single point.

The Holy Spirit’s breezes may blow a little differently on our lives each day:

  • One day prompting us to set “urgent” tasks aside to answer our eight year-old’s two hundred questions;
  • The following evening to put the inquisitive eight-year-old to bed early, to create quality time with our husband.
  • One week enabling us to put twenty hours on the clock, blessing our family with added income;
  • Another week, cutting our hours back to bless our struggling pre-teen.
  • One moment calling us to an exciting new ministry;
  • The next moment, asking us to set our ambition aside to minister to a hurting friend.

It’s not as much about schedules — as helpful as they can be — as it is about sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

When our hearts are yielded to Jesus rather than bound to our day planner, we are free to be moved — or to be stilled by Him.

Before we cut back or sign up, before we go on vacation or take the overtime hours, before we fill all that white space on our calenders, let’s hold our palms open before the Lord. Let’s give Him our hearts, our time, our jobs, our dreams, our families.

Let’s listen to His whispers. He’ll let us know what to do as we walk through each day with Him.

Our hope for sanity and peace does not rest in our ability to control; our hope for true balance is in surrender to Christ.

Let’s let Him move us.

proverbs16-3

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

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

Candace Cameron Bure – How Does She Do it All??

How Does She Do It All?? {Candace Cameron Bure  with Ruth Schwenk } (We shared this post in the past but I immediately thought of it when I was planning this series on balance. It is a perfect fit! Candace will also now be giving away a copy of her brand new book that fits perfectly as well, “Balancing It All”!)

I am so excited to have my friend Candace Cameron Bure as our guest today and introduce you to her brand new book Balancing It All!

Actress, Producer, New York Times’ bestselling author, and international speaker Candace Cameron Bure is both outspoken and passionate about her family and faith.

With a successful television and movie career that started at the age of five and continues to flourish today, Candace knows that the greatest success in her life has been that of her marriage to Valeri Bure and their three children, Natasha, Lev and Maks.

Her desire is to minister to the hearts of women so they might pursue wholesome values that nurture and reinforce the family unit; that modern women would be bold enough to stand against the negative message our culture tends to reflect, and embrace the women we were created to be.

You can find information about Candace on her website or follow her on Twitter.

Candace writes:

How does she do it all ??

It’s a question we moms all want the answer to, as if there were a formula.  You see her on t.v., talking about her latest book, her new movie, her make-up line, her charity involvement and of course her picture perfect family. Does super mom really exist?

To put it simply: no. She’s juggling her life the same way you’re juggling yours, except she’s in the public eye and her projects are on a worldwide scale. And just like you, she struggles. Trust me, she struggles. But you don’t see that in the magazines or in her interviews. They only ask her about the good stuff and she’s got her answers down pat so it only appears as if she balances it all seamlessly.

Don’t you wish you could pull back the curtain? Just for a moment?

You can. Just look in the mirror.

You may not be on the New York Times best-seller list, but the way you read to your kids should put you on the best storyteller list. You may not have a new film debut, but the drama and comedy in your house could rival any Drew Barrymore movie. You may not have founded your own non-profit organization but the effort you put into your kids’ school and your church ministry could make you the CEO of any charity in a heartbeat.

It isn’t about the scale of things that makes them more important, it’s about what’s important in your life that makes them worthy.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, a working mom from home or a working mom on the road, our desire to balance it all well will never cease. And for each of us, that means something different. Did you catch that?

For each of us, balancing it well means something different.

We are all unique including our gifts, talents, families, circumstances and situations. What’s normal for you isn’t normal for me or everyone else. Some rules won’t apply and exceptions and creative solutions will have to be made to find balance within your lifestyle.  I believe that when we come to this realization in our own lives, it will be an overwhelming sigh of relief!

It’s not about comparing yourself to the woman on television. She’s not doing it better or more efficiently than you are, her circumstances are just different.

God placed you in your space, with your own sphere of influence. How you use that influence and for whom you use it is part of balancing it all well. When we are well rounded and focusing on all the things God has created us to be and do, that is when we will achieve balance in our lives.

Blessings,

Candace, CandaceCameronBure.net

GIVEAWAY!!! Today Candace is giving away a copy of her brand new book, Balancing It All!! Enter to win a copy below!

BalancingItAll_Cover“How do you do it all?”

That’s the question that wife, mom, actress, and best-selling author Candace Cameron Bure is often asked. And it’s a question that women everywhere are asking themselves as we seek to balance all of our roles, responsibilities, and opportunities.

So, how do we do it? Working since the age of 5, Candace has been in a balancing act for nearly her entire life. She is the first to tell you that there is no miracle formula for perfect execution in every area of your life, but there definitely are some lessons to be learned, lessons that come to life in Candace’s story.

Come along and dig into Candace’s story from her start in commercials, the balance-necessitating years on Full House, to adding on the roles of wife and mom while also returning to Hollywood. Insightful, funny, and poignant, Candace’s story will help you balance it all.

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