About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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Reader Interactions


  1. If I can keep the butcher block clean in my kitchen I am happy. If I can keep clutter off my bookshelves I am happy. A blank work surface is a wonderful thing.

    I loved when Jessica said “As long as everyone has clean underwear!” I will happily offer up my dust bunnies so that I can have an hour to myself doing something soul affirming.

    • I can’t help but think of the Fly Lady when it comes to this–if your sink is shiny, all is well :). Your butcher block is the equivalent :).

  2. Pursuing balance has been one of the hardest parts of my life. I have never been the organized type of individual. Being disabled makes my life a little complicated but I somehow manage to function. I have been juggling with going back to college for the past 1 1/2 years. I recently started orientation to become a hospice volunteer. I made the decision this year to actively pursue my dreams. I struggle to keep my emotions in balance. I loved the video.

    • It sounds like you have momentum, Angel, and also that you’re an overcomer. And “I made the decision…” are VERY strong words! Proud of you!

    • How encouraging to read your post, Angel! I desire to pursue my dreams as well. I’m trying to find the jump off point and stay in God’s plan. Sigh… It’s a bit of a puzzle to me at the moment. You go girl!

      • Heather, I was reading today’s email encouragement from Proverbs31, and something that today’s contributor said really resonated with me, as I’m in the same season in life really questioning what is God’s plan and purpose for me and making the right decisions for where my path is headed: What if God’s will for us is that we develop the wisdom and discernment to make our own decisions in light of His Word, and the faith and confidence to know He will be there guiding us regardless of which path we choose?

        Hope that speaks a word of encouragement to you as you seek to find your place, your plan!

  3. So excited for this study! Is balance possible? Yes, as a goal to work toward, a concept to keep in mind throughout my day, to hold it loosely and be happy if I see progress in that direction, and don’t strive for perfect achievement in balance. What is my one thing that helps me feel peaceful? When my living areas are straightened and picked up…no clutter. What resonated with me? “A womans normal schedule should be manageable with open spaces…” Thank you! I was forever trying to get too much done and never having open spaces! 🙂

    • Tina, yes! Hold “balance” loosely–THAT is key! Otherwise, you might fall prey to defeat, right? Margin IS a critical thing…once you realize you NEED it, it becomes a pursuable thing :).

  4. Balance. It seems illusive for me. Instead of living a balanced life I feel like I am running around chasing the to do list, chasing the kids, picking up after everyone, managing the house, managing work and fighting off napping during carpool line. I am a control freak. I am the only one who can do these things in the house, with the kids, with dinner, with our schedule, with my job, with all of it. My most difficult part of all of this is being truly honest with myself about how I feel about all that goes into my days as well as not feeling guilty about taking a time out for myself. The scales are completely tipped in the favor of the tasks, the house, the kids, the job, the blog, and the husband.

    • Kendra, does it help just to say those things “out loud”? Help for you to see how you might need to let go of control? For me, I fall into the trap of feeling like it’s “all or nothing.” Instead, I try to remind myself ONE THING…let go of one thing, do ONE thing, etc. Would that be helpful to you? Delegating just one thing to begin the process toward more even scales?? It’s SO hard, I know, but I’m proud of you for your steps toward being honest with yourself :).

      • Robin, it does help to see it written there in black and white on my screen. I typed, deleted, typed again and was wringing my hands with the reality I admitted my struggle to this amazing group of women whom I am excited to connect with online. I am an all or nothing kind of gal too. If I can’t get it all done, the whole day is a fail. That’s a defeated thought and I know better! I will be thinking and praying about the one thing I can either let go of or the one thing I can work to complete well. I’ll get back to you shortly. Thanks for the encouragement Robin!

  5. Balance, for many years as long as I could fit it in our schedules, we did it. We were crazy busy and often met ourselves coming and going. Until a summer youth trip when the Lord spoke to me to simplify. That started the transformation to finding a balance/peace in my life. Does life get crazy, yes all the time. But when I have taken the time to sort, discern importantance of task….simplify, I can find the time to breathe and make decisions not at the mercy of urgency.

    Lately for me it’s been make the bed, living room picked up and dishes done. Upstairs is a disaster with the remodeling but hey, we just close the upstairs and keep the downstairs some what in order. That’s the balance I had to find, since I can’t control to remodeling.

    I have to admit “Have clean underware” is at the top of my list of favorites. It reminded me of mom always telling me that I needed to have clean underware and you face anything!

    Thanks ladies!

  6. Q1: I love the phrase they used: ‘Balance is a Unicorn!’ I really feel like that is true. But I also love how they talked about Emotional Balance. I may feel like I will never achieve balance in the sense that everything is done perfectly, the house is completely clean, and I met everyone’s needs including my own that day; However, I do feel like I can achieve emotional balance in that the things that I did get done that day were the things that I needed to get done as well as the things that My Heavenly Father needed me to get done and the rest just simply falls to the wayside, because it wasn’t what was most important. I am really looking forward to this study to discover how I can make the ‘passions’ or gifts that He has given me fit into that emotional balance, because I agree with Sarah in that I think He has blessed me with those gifts for a purpose

  7. This chapter was the perfect starting point, and this study could not have come at a better time (it’s also my first inBloom study, and I am so excited to be here). My life has been out of balance for the past several years as I have been trying to juggle a full-time job, a full-time college work load, and all of the actives that come with having teens in their last years of high school. Forget the house work, laundry, cooking, errands, and millions of meetings for committees that I have been on for half-a-dozen years or more. It has all been too much, when the emotional piece is factored in. That really resonated with me. On the calendar it works, but this school year, more than any other, has been emotionally taxing, and my health has really taken a toll because of it.

    I could’ve have been that woman in the book who sat there in the doctors office having that conversation about too much stress and hitting rock bottom, because that is where I am right now. I have not been able to recover from pneumonia, have been sick for a month on top of that, and am just a hot mess. Last night, I did what I’m told is brave, because it has put me and my health first, but feels cowardly (although it could be four decades of Catholic guilt), and I quit my job. With 3.5 months of the school year left to go, I walked away, with no notice, because the hard truth is, and my husband even pointed it out, my health is not strong enough right now to even get through a two-weeks notice period.

    So as I sit here today, looking forward to a period of rest, and recovery, and finally getting better (I pray), I’m starting on a new adventure. I am not sure where it will lead, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid, but I am ready. In the process of discovering where I go next, I am going to work at building balance. I can’t wait to see how this book continues on, and I loved the video. <3

    • Oh, Beth…{{hugs}} Honey…I don’t know you, but I’m PROUD of your brave, bold decision! THAT WAS NO SMALL THING! And I’m praying over this sickness that has held a wicked grip–that it will fade, and soon, as your body and mind finds rest.

      SO glad you’re joining us this round for (in)Bloom <– by the way, we've called it #inbooks for ever, but I J'ADORE (in)Bloom. I think I'll pass that along for a future hashtag!! xo

      • Robin, Thank you. It didn’t feel brave, especially since I worked with some of the neediest of children in our school district, and that guilty part of me feels like I’ve failed them. But falling apart, health wise, or having a nervous breakdown from the stress would be failing everyone. It will be good, I feel lighter already. Thanks for the hugs.

    • How brave! I know how it is to struggle with what seems unending ill health. I do believe, that God allows this sometimes to slow us down. Also, to help us take stock of what is most important. I’ll be praying for you!

  8. Thanking God for all of you and praying the Lord gives us all wisdom and blesses us with “Balance”. One of my favorite lines from the video is when the lovely lady with the glasses said “God created us with certain passions and gifts that He wants to see us using”, also another line was something like “We worship Him with using our gifts and it brings Him joy”. Love it! I want to bring Him joy. 😀 My housework comes in last, too. Once in awhile, my husband and I have a cleaning dance party in the house – to some fun Christian dance music. Praise God for messes, because if we didn’t have a totally sloppy house sometimes, we would miss out on cleaning dance parties.
    My spiritual gifts are Intercessor and Encourager, your video reminded me that I am using those gifts. So I felt encouraged. I lead a women’s prayer group and I spend about an hour with the Lord each morning in prayer, reading scripture and worshiping Him. And He often leads me to encourage others.
    However, one thing I’m trying to find time for is “Writing”. I have a passion for writing for God’s glory, and sharing my testimony and things I’ve learned to help other women grow in their walk with the Lord. Just as God has used several women writers to grow me, and I thank God for them, and pray for them, I also want to be used by God to write for His glory.
    Praise God for this awesome study and women’s fellowship! Looking forward to more life transformation and sanctification. Blessings to you all!

    • Amber, it is abundantly clear you’re an encourager; I love that you’re reminded that is indeed a gift! And I love the way you see a half-full glass–sloppy houses = fun dance parties! THAT is a sight to imagine!! 🙂

      • Thanks so much, friend! You’re comment encouraged me. 😀 P.S. after I wrote my above comment, I realized there were two lovely ladies with glasses in the video. You are ALL lovely and beautiful! (Song of Song 4:7).

    • I loved what she said also, Amber! I read “The Purpose Driven Life” several years ago and the the chapter talking about our passions and desires being from God has always stuck with me! I to struggle with wanting time to write (which is my dream vocation). Thank you for sharing!

  9. Q1. I love that they called balance a “unicorn.” Ha! — Of course, I struggle in this area. If my bills are paid, the house is dirty. If the house is clean, the fridge is empty. I feel like I am constantly juggling and always dropping one ball.

    Q2. For me, if the house is “picked up” and not messy and the dishes are in clean, I am a happy camper. (and thank you, Lord, for dishwashers)

    Q3. I would have to say “take care of your health” — because I am really not doing well on the exercise front. Now that I am at a desk job, I need to make time for activity and movement.

    Q4. “If what you do doesn’t matter to you, it’s really not going to matter to anyone else,’ Work to fill your life with things that matter” (p. 35).

    • Lyli, if you’re dropping only one ball, I’d say you’re doing pretty well ;).

      I’m challenging you to move more! I know how sedentary life can be as a writer (and someone with a second virtual job), so I’m reminding myself to MOVE daily!! One reason why I’m willing to get up at an ungodly hour to attend boot camp. Oy.

      (LOVE that quote, too.)

    • Lyli, I love your honesty. <3 I too am struggling to move more, and am hoping once the weather improves, along with my health, to make this a daily priority. That quote on p.35 was one that I underlined, and ironically, because I have been bad about counting gifts (Julie would be so sad), my 1,000th gift was "Qutting my job". How ironic, and yet, the biggest blessing. Need to start filling my life with things that matter, and right now that includes more time in the word, which I haven't had enough of for a long time. ((hugs for you friend))

  10. Wow! I hardly know where to start w/ us owning our own small business, my “home” time seems to be crowded and interrupted w/ “work” things because when I’m at work, I need to be able to serve customers. As long as the dishes are washed up, I’m pretty happy! 🙂 Looking forward to learning more!

    • Oh goodness, owning your own business presents its own set of unique challenges as it relates to balance. It’s almost impossible to “leave it at the office” I bet!

      • That’s what I feel, too…home is 2nd, and business is 1st, but when I come home, I see all the stuff that needs done here. We’ve tried to separate home and work, but I could use some mentoring in this area for sure! 🙂 We don’t have children, so I realize that is one dynamic we don’t have in the mix.

  11. My takeaway: “Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.” (page 31) At the age of 63, I am still working full time as an operating room nurse, and am required to take call. I have a husband, children, grandchildren, sisters, and friends with whom I love to spend time. I worship with a wonderful congregation, and I try to get into God’s Word every day. However, I have overindulged in taking online classes, reading blogs, and receiving emails. The last two days I have unsubscribed from over 50 of these (I told you I overindulged). While this feels good, I still need to take a good look at how much time I spend on the computer. I want to make what I do count, and not to just count what I do.

    • You. Are. Wise.

      As I read the beginning of your comment, I thought, “*This* is IT!!” And then I kept reading and had to smile, realizing once again, what we see of our friends online is only a partial picture. Well done, Barbara Ann, to take HARD but tangible steps to making your life more full but in the ways that matter most! xo

    • Hi Barbara! My second name is also Ann:)
      As I was reading through the comments, your takeaway quote was the same as mine. Also, I love to read, and the digital age makes it so easy to overindulge in this pleasure of mine, that my family sometimes call me iLara! Simplifying the reading/blog list to absolute favourites has helped me too.

    • Hi Barbara! My second name is also Ann:)
      As I was reading through the comments, your takeaway quote was the same as mine. Also, I love to read, and the digital age makes it so easy to overindulge in this pleasure of mine, that my family sometimes call me iLara! Simplifying the reading/blog list to absolute favourites has helped me too.

  12. I love the Barbara Walters quote at the start of this chapter: “Most of us have trouble juggling. The woman who says she doesn’t is someone whom I admire but have never met.” What a perfect way to start the chapter! Even though we tend to think “everyone has it all together except me,” we really are all in the same boat.

  13. Q1 Balance: I think in theory it’s acheivable, but you have to be willing to say no, to the good and good choices. You have to be willing to let go of the feelings of inadequacy and the push to “keep up with the Joneses”. It’s hard to say no, especially between two good choices, especially when it comes to your children, or your church, or helping someone out… but in the end we are the ones left feeling unfulfilled, exhausted and overwhelemed….

    Q2 Dishes in the sink and empty laundry baskets. I refuse to go to bed with dishes in the sink, because when I wake up in the morning I want it to feel like the fresh start that God promises every morning. If yesterday’s food is still hanging around in my sink, I feel (symbolically) like I am still carrying around yesterday’s stuff. I need to wash it down the drain before I go to bed.

    Q3 Extending grace to myself. Plain and simple. I am great at extending it to others, I am very understanding, non-judgemental, I try not to put undue pressure on others, however when it comes to myself I set up unrealistic expectations and goals, unacheivable standards and push myself to do more, be more, accomplish more. To what end? I never feel satisfied, I never feel like I did everything I needed to. Perfection is an alluring fallacy.

    Q4 “We can’t have balance if activities in our life are neatly, scheduled but we are overwhelemed, exhausted and emotional.” Too many days I am grumpy and gripey because I am tired, busy and overwhelmed. I snap at those I love, and the people I am supposed to be a role model to. My heart is often conflicted between the myth of being the “perfect mother” and the reeality of just “doing the best I can” and letting that be sufficient.

    • Nicki,

      You’re really thinking through all of this. That is SO good! So much of succeeding in our lives is won or lost in our minds! Soooo….articulating what’s going on in the interior places of our heads and hearts will prompt us toward re-ordering our chaos. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Balance for me is something I have to work towards every day, seems like I am always moving things around so balance CAN be possible. I feel like I am learning very day about what balance means to me within a given season. I am not a SAHM since we started with our first foster child, I wanted to make sure that I was doing the best I could after making this commitment.

    Since then I am struggling to find that balance between being productive at home and not getting lost or bored. Sometimes feeling like I am not doing enough but when I have time to really reflect on my last 3 years I know that I am so much more fulfilled then I could imagine and I am right where I need to be at this time. I step back and take a look, putting what I have NOW into balance and not look at where I thought I should be. Prayer it a big part of my keeping things balanced now and there are times that I need to step back and re-evaluate what my balance should look like.

    Sorry for rambling on…..LOL

    • Your comment about finding balance where you are instead of looking at where you thought you should be reminds me of this quote that’s always been one of my favorites: “Bloom where you are planted”. 🙂

    • Ha…I speak ramble :).

      So wise, Debra…prayer orients our hearts toward THE thing that matters, and I think empowers us to live as God intends. When we aren’t actively praying, our focus is elsewhere, and oh my–I don’t wanna be left to my own devices!

      Ramble anytime…love your thinking.

  15. Q1. As a single mom I don’t think balance is achievable. If I don’t do something, it doesn’t get done. I have moments while doing certain things where I feel like I’m doing what I’m made to do, where I feel content, versus the rest of the time where I feel completely overwhelmed, and that’s the closest to balance I get. Most of the time I feel exhausted and overwhelmed by a never-ending list.

    Q2. My “clean laundry” is when my freezer is full of things I’ve cooked and baked. If I have healthy, delicious meals ready to feed my growing boys and their friends I feel more sane. Or at least more like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

    Q3. Extending grace to myself is the most difficult part for me in cultivating balance. I feel hugely responsible for many things and if I fail to meet one of those responsibilities, which is often, I’m brutal with myself because I feel like I’m failing everyone. What I am good at is finding time to pray. I can do that no matter what else I’ve got going on. And without it I’d be even more overwhelmed than I already am.

    Q4. A quote that resonated with me: “If one thing is dominating during a particular season, that’s okay, as long as adjustments are made to other areas. Without those adjustments to “reduce volume,” distortion and chaos will result. But if you make those adjustments, your life song will bring the most beauty and pleasure possible in your life.”

    • {{hugs}} Single parenting is daunting, so I know yours (and so many others) have to work even harder at this.

      How precious that a full freezer (a service to others) is what makes you feel sane; your focus is outward, and that’s a lovely demonstration of “considering others more highly than yourself” :).

      The self-talk inside our heads can be an awful thing; I hope this is the beginning of being kinder to yourself. You started right here with recognizing what you’re good at, and I clapped in my head!!

      And thanks for sharing that quote, reading it again reminds me that what is going on today, won’t necessarily be tomorrow.

  16. Good afternoon, ladies. 🙂

    This is all new to me, so please forgive me if I’m not on top of everything immediately.
    (Oh, and the other day, I thought that the little up arrow was for “like”, so I pressed it on a couple of things. So sorry. 🙂 )

    When I first started the book, I really had a long pause trying to answer the opening question in the book: “If you were to choose one word to describe your your daily life, what would it be?” Was there anyone else who couldn’t settle on a descriptive word for their daily life? There’s so much joy, and gratitude, and chaos, and stress, and love, etc. Whatever the word for all of that is…that’s the word that describes my daily life. I’ll settle for a very insufficient word…exhausting. Sometimes good. Sometimes not-so-good. Always exhausting.

    I like the premise of this book/study. If I’m understanding it correctly, it’s not a “fluff” type of time that we’re trying to find, but a purposeful type of time. With three teens, from college to junior high, I learned, long ago, that there are some seasons that just aren’t about me. But, I like this premise…because this premise makes it about God, and not about Brenda. Making room in my days for fulfilling God’s calling on my life. That, I need. 🙂 Of course, motherhood is one of His callings on my life, so I don’t discount that, but I’ve found that motherhood can also be one of my distractions.

    Well, since I’ve already typed a short story, I guess I I’ll bypass the questions this time around.
    Thank you, ladies. 🙂
    ~ Blessings ~

    • Ummm, Brenda…I never even noticed those arrows until you mentioned them…and I think it DOES mean “like” in a sense :).

      One word descriptors challenge me! I think I’d have a different answer every time I’m asked…so I get that. Still, it’s a great exercise in thinking more narrowly, and focus is a productive thing.

      Yes, you understand Jessica’s heart–purpose in our time. One of the most interesting statements I read is in your comment, that being “motherhood can also be one of my distractions”. Brilliant. It really can when it consumes us and we have little time for our spouse and no time for God. Ouch… (I’m not saying you, I’m saying where I’ve been in the past…).

      Anyway, glad you’re here! Keep those thoughts coming!

      • So glad to be able to be here! Thank you. 🙂

        (( btw, I think that I might have accidentally hit that tiny down arrow when I was trying to hit “reply”. If so, I didn’t mean to dislike your post. lol. 🙂 ))

  17. Q1: I agree with Jessica that balance should always be the goal, but it might not ever be fully achieved. It’s important to prioritize first things first and recognize what season of life you’re in. For me, the new part of that challenge is making sure I go on the list, along with everything else.

    Q2: Clean kitchen sink and counters.

    Q3: Saying no and making time for myself are the hardest for me. How can I say yes to scrapbooking or doing my nails or reading when there are bigger projects to tackle that are seemingly more important? But the truth is that if I take care of me, I will have more to give in the long run to all those other good, important, “bigger” things.

    Q4: Page 30: “Just because they are good things does not mean they are good for you, for right now (or even ever). To not allow the stress of too many good things to invade our lives and steal our joy, we have to learn to say no, prioritize, or eliminate things entirely.”

    • Dee,

      Wisdom. Your comment, all of it, makes me think WISDOM! Scripture talks so much about it, and I see it so clearly as it relates to our time!! That is my banner prayer for us over this study…. With wisdom comes healthy motive and positive action. Thanks for stirring those thoughts 🙂

  18. My takeaway from chapter 1 was this;
    “We can’t have balance if activities in our life are neatly scheduled but we are overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotional.
    My friend Karen says that life is like a sound board. When music is mixed, the sound technician needs to adjust the levels to make the music sound its best. If one person or instrument needs to be really loud, everything else can’t be loud too because the board can’t handle it and, more importantly, the music won’t sound its best.
    The same is true in life. If one thing is dominating during a particular season, that’s okay, as long as adjustments are made to other areas. Without those adjustments to ‘reduce the volume,’ distortion and chaos will result. But if you make those adjustments, your life song will bring the most beauty and pleasure possible in your life.”
    As the wife of a musician (who wears many musical hats, including sound technician), this made so much sense to me (and to him when I shared it)! It really helped drive the point home, and it was a point that was needing to be driven home in my life.

  19. I love the part where Jessica says, “Sometimes too many good things can just be too much.” This is something I have definitely learned over the last couple of years and am learning when to say “No” so I can make room to breathe. Balance is still difficult to achieve, but I am striving this year for my family to live with purpose pursuing activities that are “the best”, not just good.

  20. The biggest “aha” for me was “Evaluate what matters.” “Continuously review your schedule and make sure everything is necessary.
    I also loved what Sarah said about remembering that God has made us with gifts and passions to do the things that are only for us as individuals! Great reminder. Love it!

  21. “To live a full strength.” I love that! It sometimes means resting or having quiet time instead of going full throttle.

  22. This discussion was just beautiful. I wanted so badly to be sitting at that table with these women. I held back tears when I heard the part of the discussion when Sarah (sp?) said that she is Mother 95% of the time, but she needs to remember that she is Sarah too. That part was the best. I loved it all though. Beautiful videography too.

    • Hi Caryn,

      I can’t recall–is this your first Bloom study? I ask because we had a different videographer this time and it’s nice of you to compliment that :).

      We’re so glad you’re here with us virtually…next best thing to being there!

      • This is my second study. My first study was with Annie Down’s, “Let’s All Be Brave”. I loved everything about that study too – including the setting and the feel, and the videography was great for that one too. This one is just extra nice-looking, I think, because of the setting and the lighting. I like the two camera views, I like the intro shots. I own a small video business, so I probably just notice those things more than the average viewer.

  23. Q2. If our bed is made before I leave the house (ie, the sheets pulled up), the dishwasher running each night with the coffee pot ready for the morning, if I can get 2-3 loads done every 3-4 days, I’m good. Dust bunnies are not strangers in my home!

    Q3. I love these lists! I’m definitely a list person. I’ve had to learn how to say no a LOT since getting married – I’m always go-go-go and my husband is much more of a homebody. I’ve learned to value our time together, RESTING with each other, and how to cut back on church and ministry opportunities. For cultivating balance within myself … I resonate with most of these. As young adults, we seem to have a lot of time in our schedule, but I know that will change very soon, with a baby coming in September! So, I know I’m about to learn a whole NEW way of finding balance within myself.

    Favorite quote, page 30: “Just because they are good things doesn’t mean that they are good for YOU, for right now (or even ever). To not allow the stress of too many ‘good’ things to invade our lives and steal our joy, we have to learn to say no, prioritize, or eliminate things entirely.”

    • Dust bunnies are permanent residents in the corners of my house ;).

      You make a good point in Q3–that is LEARNING to value the things that don’t necessarily come natural. Your marriage is better because you’re open to your husband’s needs and natural bents and you’re willing to love him in the way he needs :). And, yes–with a new little one coming soon, you’ll be amazed at how much there is to learn ;).

  24. Taking into account my emotional fortitude or lack thereof 🙂 was a huge lightbulb moment for me. The calendar may say that it will all look easy and fit, but one appointment may leave me emotionally bankrupt for days. If I jump into another scheduled event not fully alright emotionally, life is a disaster. I am finding that I need to go to something, and if I was the “encourager” in that event, I may need to bump things left in the month back a bit and make sure I am ready for the next “thing.” It was freeing to realize that I emotionally am not called to me “all things to all people.” I am an emotional being created by God. It is not to be apologized for, but celebrated and allowed to be what it needs to be. 🙂

    • Deena, I am so like you in that way. My husband is not at all so does not understand my need for “downtime.” Until recently I do not acknowledge this was a healthy part of my makeup and that does not mean something is wrong with me. Once I realized this is who I am I can better nurture that part of me.

  25. My “clean underwear” equivalent is having a clean kitchen. When my counters are cleared off and there are no dirty dishes in the sink (or piled up on the stove & counters) I feel like I have accomplished so much. That is when I can more easily take the time – and enjoy the time – to do something for myself.
    I struggle with balance time hat includes pursuing my passions. One of my favorite quotes/discussion is about pursuing our passions brings God joy and is as important as the other roles we play.

  26. -The only way my family achieves balance is living in HARMONY like Tobi said. I can’t give equal attention to everything so we will live in ever changing harmony.
    -My sanity is vacuuming my living room and kitchen every night before bed. It gives me a sense of world peace! Dishses piled high-laundry everywhere-paper and mail everywhere but I’ve vacuumed and I sigh in peace:)
    -Reducing distractions is SO hard for me. I’m extremely distracted! Giving grace to myself is also difficult.
    -“A Woman’s normal schedule should not be overwhelming. Your schedule should be manageable, with open space” I went back to a paper planner this year by Emily Ley. In her notes she said that she hoped that there would be white space left over in every day. That meant so much to me. I’ve been on a journey these last 12 months to leave the white space and I feel like my creativity is coming back to life. I’ve also seen a huge increase in my kid’s creativity.

  27. Love this book & the discussion! I’m making notes in my journal. My favorite quote from the book is “Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.” I wrote it down before I read the division questions because it really resonates for me.

  28. My “one thing” is my quiet time in the mornings. It has ALWAYS been a day-to-day struggle to carve out my time alone with the Lord. I am not a morning person and yet that just seems the be the best time of day to be most alert and focused to read/listen/journal with the Lord. But when I do make sure that that one thing is done, my day is always 110% better than if I don’t. Currently I do my day-in and day-out life with a lively, spunky toddler. It really came across to me that balance is kind of a fluid concept, day-to-day, sometimes even minute-to-minute and that life comes in stages and seasons and for better or worse things won’t always be as they are right now. So I try not to define my “success” in a day on how many boxes I checked off my to-do list, but I’m still not entirely sure where that leaves me with trying to eek out some time for myself! It does feel really, really nice though to sit down at the end of the day and have some “girl time” with all of you ladies, it’s refreshing in a way that I didn’t realize I needed!

    • So well said: ” balance is kind of a fluid concept, day-to-day, sometimes even minute-to-minute and that life comes in stages and seasons and for better or worse things won’t always be as they are right now.”

      We’re thankful you’re a part, too, Lydia. That our time together is refreshing to YOU is blessing to us!!

  29. Q1. I struggle in this area. I tend to throw myself at something in such a way that I become a bit obsessed. That means that other things fall away. So if I am trying to eat right or exercise to achieve a fitness/health/weight goal then I become sort of obsessive about it and can’t handle an off day. That is one simple explanation but I think that I do that sort of thing in many areas of my life. So while I think balance is achievable, I get out of balance pretty easily. I have to be very intentional to be balanced. I feel a pull between work and home. Like if I am doing one well, then I can’t do the other one well.
    Q2. I like to have the clutter picked up and the counters/kitchen table wiped off.
    Q3. The hardest thing is to extend grace to myself–I am my own worst critic. Reducing distractions and saying no to things outside our home come relatively easily to me.
    Q4. “Finding out what kind of work-life balance is best for you is a personal decision. What works for one woman is different from what will work for another.” So my take away is to read this and let God show me what he wants to do in my life to achieve balance and not to look around at what everyone else is doing to achieve balance. Also the concept that not all good things are good for me now. I have been pondering what that really means for my life now. I need to sit and really think that one through for a while.

    • Ah…yes…recognizing that you are YOU! And what speaks to you is what needs to be heard! Great takeaway to remember the PERSONAL application :).

  30. I think balance is achievable only if I accept the idea that seasons of my life will be different, having one area be a larger focus than others. When I come to terms with what that area is and let go of others, allowing them to minimalize, only then can I feel some balance.
    If my kitchen is clean my mind is clear 🙂
    I can express gratitude as I reflection the 1,000 gifts God gives me on a daily basis and take care of my health (only because I had to focus on it very strongly about four years ago and many things have become second nature). I struggle to receive and extend grace as well as pray and make time for myself.
    “Too much of a good thing is still too much”

    • You reinforce the point that finding balance only comes after we realize we’re out of balance. Action has to be taken to pursue it….

      • So true. I have noticed that self care is an area that is defintly out of balance in my life. I have had some opportunities to put into practice doing a better job with this in recent weeks due to some snow days and bad winter weather where I live. I did okay but I know there are some specific things I can work on — like giving myself permission and grace to do “nothing” for a block of time during those days and know that I am not lazy 😉 We are expecting some more winter weather here in the next 12 hours so I will have another opportunity to practice this skill again soon!

    • Jenn, our answers really mirror each others. I agree with accepting which season of life I am currently in dictates how the balance looks. I also love that you cultivated gratitude and now is has become second nature.

      • Thanks Elizabeth! I am just getting into accepting seasons of life and how to balance them. For example, we are getting a lot of snow and winter weather where I live and while I enjoy the extra time with my family I struggle to rest during those days. I also struggle to know what I should do to be productive with my work on those days “off”. We are expecting another batch of weather tonight so I will have an opportunity to put it into practice sooner rather than later 🙂 The gratitude discipline only comes thanks to reminders on my phone 😉 But I am so grateful for Ann Voskamp’s inspiration from “1,000 Gifts” book to get me started!

  31. Does saying this “out loud” somehow help, Shelly? To get things out of my head, and onto a screen or to another’s ears is usually the first step in me DOING something. I’m praying over you (and so many like you) who have constrained budgets to find a thing they CAN do. We’re learning in TFH that time is there, but sometimes we have to CHANGE to see it….

  32. Keeping the dishwasher loaded and laundry done on my Monday’s I am doing pretty good. Yet i cannot seem to balance vacuuming nor cleaning the bathrooms. of late my husband has had to help me due to my foot being injured and no I don’t know how. So I am only doing what I can do. Without bringing more injury to my foot.

  33. I do believe balance is achievable IF I allow it to be a fluid idea meaning if I allow what I consider balance one particular week may not look like balance the following week.

    I am a person that does not like loose ends in any shape, form or fashion. I tend to not be very good at prioritizing which loose end to tie up first as they all give me the same feeling of undoneness and accomplishment when completed. I think this is an area I can tweak and get better at.

    As a whole balancing commitments comes very easy to me and balancing myself is less easy. I say “No” often, I do not overcommit etc but giving myself and others grace and love does not come naturally to me and I so want to cultivate that in myself and my life.

    My take away quote for this week is ” A woman’s “normal ” schedule should not be overwhelming.”

  34. Hi! I became completely defeated in beating clutter and mess after my 2nd child…as I was a perfectionist, I was never able to keep it good enough for myself, and then gave up! Could you possibly retrain your brain to allow a certain space to be messy w/kids things, and then just keep the other parts at the level you want? Or vice-versa? Keep the living room very clean and let the kid’s room and the other rooms go? I think it would have helped me. Now my kids are older and every evening take all their things into their rooms…I can close their doors, and it isn’t my responsibility to clean those places!

  35. Clean sheets, clean sink, balanced checkbook! I just caught up on balancing our accounts last night, and it felt so good to have cleared off the pile next to the computer and to know exactly what is in our accounts before we head off for spring break!

  36. Q2. My morning exercise routine accomplished and the kitchen straightened and wiped down!

    Q4. The quote Jessica shared on page 35, “If what you do doesn’t matter to you, it’s really not going to matter to anyone else.” This quote resonated with the pressure I feel when I do something MORE simply because I feel if I don’t that I’m letting someone down… And the guilt I feel because this very thing is the thing I don’t even want to do in the first place! Crazy cycle. So amen to that truth.

  37. A1. I often find it easy to swing to extremes in my daily life. I do very well in one area, but those are then neglected. I may do great staying on top of the housework and we have a neat, clean home and good food to eat, but time with the kids and my husband suffers, and we hardly speak outside of the basic communication. Or I do well with relational connections and maintaining our home, but my writing or self-care practices suffer. It seems as if I cannot maintain a good level of satisfaction with any area and not have
    others suffer for it.

    I think overall balance should be attainable. There may be big things (projects, events,
    relationships) that are a focus at a particular time while others are neglected, and in that sense they are never in balance and will not be. However, the day in and day out events and emotional stability should be balanced. If not consistent achievement of this is not possible, may there are too many daily things I am attempting?

    A2. For me in connection with housework if the dining room table and kitchen counters are cleared off at night, there is a peace that helps me start the next day well. As for other aspects of life, getting a shower and having reading/study time are my personal “clean laundry”, relationally it is quality connection with my husband, and health wise it is a good sleep at night.

    A3. I find it hardest to: 1) reduce distractions, 2) extend grace to others and to myself, 3) give and receive love (the just being of this, grates on the “get things done” natural inclination I have)
    I find it easiest to: 1) evaluate what matters, 2) take care of my health, 3) pray

    A4. “When we live using our God-given talents and passions, I believe we are pleasing him and more fully living the life we were born to live.” p. 49

  38. Q1. I struggle to “balance” in that, the tasks I think are most important (and I devote most of my time to) are not actually most important, leaving myself (and then consequently my family) frustrated

    Q2. Having everything in its place helps me think and tackle tasks methodically. Dirty dishes, laundry, and scattered school books? Start by putting it in its place, then tackle one at a time. Dishes are not so overwhelming if all in the sink or stacked neatly. Dirty clothes don’t make me freak if they are in their hampers/laundry baskets and out of the way. Etc.

    Q3. I think it’s natural to love ourselves – Jesus knows how we naturally love ourselves, and hence the call to shift that natural affection to others – hence Mark 12:31. I don’t think the struggle is that we don’t love ourselves well. We look out for number 1 in all the wrong ways. I think we just don’t try to take care of ourselves well – to be healthy so we can serve and love at full power. To be mentally and physically healthy, we need to protect the “fringe hours.”

    Q4. I liked her definitions of balance.

  39. I read this and I can relate so well! I had the exact same experience – growing up, I was embarrassed by how messy our house was and now, as an adult, I am always struggling to have our house ready to be judged by other people (who probably aren’t judging at all). I have noticed with myself, too, that when I feel as if life is out of control, I get more obsessive about the house – if I feel like it is under control, I feel like I have control over something!
    You and I can work this through together during the study 🙂

  40. Balance is something that has been so elusive for me in my life! I drive myself so hard – I don’t think I’m trying to be perfect, I’m trying to be good enough. Sometime along the way, I picked up the message that I didn’t measure up and I spend my entire life feeling as though I have to prove myself. As a mother of two kids who works full-time as a teacher and tries to be involved with church and friendships, I spend so much of my life just managing – getting everything done and proving I am o.k. but dying inside with how exhausted I am. I have prayed about it so much over the last few years – I know the gospel message should release me from this need to prove I’m worthy but it’s a hard habit to break. I do a word for each year and after praying about it in December, I came up with the word “Gentle” for the year 2015 and a bit part of that is learning to be gentle with myself. That’s why I’m here! I am so honoured to get to learn from everyone here and from this terrific book!

  41. One takeaway that resonated most with me in this chapter was that “we can’t have balance if activities in our life are neatly scheduled but we are overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotional”. I know that I can always tell when my schedule has become coo coo when I am emotional, easy to cry, sensitive with my feelings, and that I feel a constant state of “blah”. My calendar may look organized, neat and management on the outside when I am screaming for peace on the inside. For me, it’s looking at my schedule every week when I am planning and saying to myself, what can I live without to give me an evening, an hour, a lunch break to enjoy my passions or desires!

  42. Speaking of balance… I am just getting to this. When I read the definition of balance in the book it seems so easy. To be satisfied with how things are arranged and sane. I can do that. But then at the end of the week… ugh. I do feel satisfied when the kitchen is straightened up and we have clean underwear! The rest I can live with. So maybe I should start there. But at this time in my life there are many other things that I am struggling to feel satisfied with. My homework. My paperwork at my job. My daughters therapy schedule. So I am thinking that I have taken on too much and to step back and look at the definition of balance has helped me see that and start to reconsider what I am doing on a daily basis.
    “Just because they are good things doesn’t mean that they are good for you, for right now”(pg.30). I needed that permission to let go of some stuff.

  43. A1. Debbie Downer here: I don’t think the traditional concept of balance is possible—at least for me. I think it is as real as the unicorn the ladies mentioned. When I’ve tried to achieve work-life balance, I feel like a circus performer trying to balance spinning plates and just as I have them all going, one falls. When I get the plate balanced and spinning again, another plate falls…and so on.

    Because I liked the work-life “fit” concept of Cali Yost (mentioned in the book), I did some more reading online. One of the articles that really resonated with me was the idea of work-life “integration.” Because of the world many of us live in (thank you technology) many of us struggle to set clear boundaries or clean breaks for our work and home life. We are constantly connected or “on.”

    This is why I really like Jessica’s definition: “a satisfying arrangement of elements + emotional stability = balance.”

    A2: I actually discovered this weekend that I feel really great when I have my day/week/month planned! I feel more together when I have our family’s activities loaded on our family calendar. And I am really winning when I have a weekly to-do list.

    A3. Filling my life with things that “matter” (this feels selfish to me) and reducing distractions (tech addict here!) are REALLY tough for me!

    A4. My favorite take-away: “Just because something is a good thing, doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.”

    • Snap on the takeaway quote Heather! And it’s great to find things out about yourself… That’s what I love about studies like this. Just reading through everyone’s comments help me to realize or analyze my own thought process.

  44. Finally making some time to read and watch the videos this weekend! I love the quote that Jessica shared that she has n her desk. ” if hwat you do doesn’t matter to you, it’s really not going to matter to anyone else.”

  45. Q1 Balance is hard. In regard to work life balance. I feel like to do the best job I need to be 100% at work when I am there and 100% at home when I am there. But I find that I tend to do better in one than the other. And then I might flipflop because I am trying to do better in the area that was weaker. I do like that the way she deifned it. Saying that it is more than just having the things in our lives fitting together nicely but that my emotional stability plays a big part. I think that part of the definition will help me to say no when its needed more often.
    Q2 This is hard. I have a few things that I focus on most. Clean counters in my kitchen and swept floors. The other thing is that I have to keep dishes going all the time. We don’t have a dishwasher (but 5 kids and 2 adults in the house) and we have a small kitchen so we just have to stay disciplined enough to wash dishes after every meal. But this is certainly a hard area for me. I have often been found staying up very late and loosing sleep to clean the house after the kids go to bed.
    Q3 I know how to say no and have before. But then I will quickly second guess myself or not express the no in a loving way. I don’t extend grace to myself well and often feel very guilty for saying the no.
    Q4 “Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.” I have heard this before but it still needs to sink in and be something that I live out.