You could say that me and my family are living in a “year of transition.”
In the last 12 months, we have:
Moved six hours away from our children’s childhood home.
Renovated and moved into the smallest house we have ever lived in as a married couple.
Started a new family business (farming).
Decreased our income by 25% in order to pursue this new business endeavor.
Added a new baby (almost. We are due in August).
Any one of these changes would require adjustments and bring about a learning curve as a new “normal” is figured out.
Pile them all on top of one another and you have the makings for a ridiculous amount of chaos and a recipe for a lack of peace.
Yet, by God’s grace alone, we haven’t lost our minds (We’ve gotten close - there have been lots of tears, frustrated conversations and moments of deep discouragement during this last year, but God’s faithfulness has triumphed and He has taught me so many sweet lessons as a result).
This year-long journey has taught me that a balanced lifestyle for me and my family doesn’t necessarily mirror the balanced lifestyle that God has for you and your family, or that God had for us just a season ago.
Instead, it’s the gift to live out a grace-based balance every day.
God has been gracious to show me that the greatest calling on my life is not that I have a tidy home, a strong social media game, an influential job or even a variety of deep friendships. But instead, the greatest calling God has given me is to be in deep friendship and partnership with my husband, be a purposeful and understanding parent, and seek the Lord’s delight above all else.
When those three things remain the highest priority on my daily life list, then everything else seems to fall into place.
But, you may be asking, what does that actually look like when Monday morning rolls around?
I think there are 5 Key Essentials that help me live a grace-balanced lifestyle in this season.
Waking up when I need to wake up.
Sleep is a gift that enables our minds and bodies to function at their best and when we steal minutes (or hours) away from our time for sleep by working late, watching tv or vegging on our phones, we are setting ourselves up to operate at less-than-our-best in the days to come.
I have come to realize that if I want to get the most out of my days, I need to be well-rested.
For the days when I need an alarm clock to help me rise so I can meet the day’s responsibilities, then I do my best to go to bed at an appropriate time to allow myself a good night’s sleep.
If I’m not able to get the sleep I need, then I allow myself a little afternoon catnap, a sleep-in on a Sunday morning or permission to leave something undone the next night so I can get to bed earlier.
Setting my mind on things above and not on earthly things.“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:2-3, NIV
Starting my day with Jesus simply helps me filter the day as a whole through the lens of Christ.
I love to enjoy a quiet morning at our kitchen table with my Bible and journal, diving into a passage of Scripture and gleaning nuggets from God’s Word that help me love better and live more like Jesus.
However, between a school schedule for our oldest, homeschool needs for our middle and the toddler demands of our youngest, mornings are rarely quiet; let alone calm enough to dive deeply into God’s Word.
The balance for me, then, comes with focusing in on one way that I can intentionally set my mind “on things above” given the schedule of that individual morning.
The best option may be to turn on my favorite worship station to sing with as I make breakfast. I can also take a few minutes to re-read a highlight from a devotion that I read the previous night before going to bed. Or it may just be taking 10 seconds in my morning shower to pause, breathe deeply, let the water wash over me and simply say “Lord, every bit of this day is yours.”
I don’t think God is surprised or disappointed by my “lack” of a consistent morning quiet time. He knows the demands of my day better than I do; I think He simply desires for my mind and heart to be set on Christ from the beginning so that my life may be hidden in Christ throughout all that happens. I think the format with which that happens can be flexible from day to day.
Writing out a “potential” to do list for the day.
Routine and farming do not always go hand in hand. Actually, they rarely do.
Setting myself up mentally for a scheduled day often results in disappointed expectations and deep frustrations, in me and my household. I have learned that the best way to bring balance with my daily task list is to simply create a “potential” to-do list.
I write out all the things that could get accomplished that day. (Going back to #1, if I need a nap, it definitely gets put on the list). Then, I simply pick one and get to work on it. If it gets interrupted, then I do my best to get back to it and finish it when I can.
I use my daily list as a “mental map” to help me remember the things that were most important for me to do that day, but not as a rigid list of expectations.
As I complete a task, it gets crossed off. If I didn’t get it done but it needs attention still, then it goes on the next day’s list (with today’s list going into the trash at the end of the day).
And, because crossing things off my list helps me feel more accomplished, if a task popped up that needed immediate attention and I was able to complete it, then I add it to the list and cross it off with a satisfying stroke.
Being present with my people.
I have the opportunity to be physically present with my kids quite a bit on the farm. But I must make the deliberate choice to be fully present with them, giving them my attention, my time and my patience in our days together. That often means setting boundaries around my work and my phone so that my kids get all of me for this short period of life where I, as their parent, still have the greatest influence in their life.
I want the chance to know my kids and for them to know me. That doesn’t just happen because I’m their parent. It takes purposeful effort to be present with them when there are so many other things to be distracted by.
The same is true in my marriage as well.
Date nights used to look like make-up, dinner out and an evening babysitter for our kids about once a month. We scheduled it, created a budget for it and even set our phones down for the few hours we had together. While it was a nice format, it didn’t translate well into farm life.
I have discovered that good dates simply look like quality time together where we can talk, laugh and truly enjoy the company of one another.
We’ve laughed while making strawberry jam at midnight, we’ve dreamed while road tripping to pick up apple trees and we’ve planned while working side by side at farmer’s markets. These dates are far from glamorous, and often involve a lot of labor, but they have become incredibly satisfying and something we both look forward to. The joy of being present in the everyday opportunities with my husband has afforded us a stronger, richer experience as a married couple.
Releasing myself from the expectation to be everyone’s solution.
I like to solve people’s problems. Which means people often come to me for advice or help or encouragement. Except, right now, my plate is full. Very full.
Accepting the chance to invest deeply into another person’s world at this time means I’m also subtracting from my ability to do well the true priorities God has given me.
Therefore, if I want to keep the most important things as the most important things, then I must use the word “no” frequently; without guilt or fear and release myself from being the solution to everyone else’s problems.
This, in turn, gives me the freedom to fully pour my whole self into the priority tasks and relationships God has given me, without carrying burdensome commitments.
Our life of balance simply revolves around the value of grace. Grace to work, grace to rest, grace to center, grace to be present and grace to say no. Is there an aspect of your life that needs a bit more grace to bring a bit more balance?
Book: The Best Yes
Rebecca Pierce is a writer, speaker and bible teacher who loves connecting women with the heart of Jesus through God’s Word. Her full-time job includes learning how to be a farmer’s wife and raising their tribe to love Jesus and love people well.