on finding balance {laura's story}...

my sweet friend, laura, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
laura can be found on instagram at @lbkrause.
laura and i crossed paths via instagram and plan to meet as soon as possible 
on one of my many michigan-area adventures.
laura's dedication to intentional living, along with her faithful devotional journaling, 
help me to live my daily life as a wife and mother with true perspective on my priorities.


Hello, friends! I’m Laura. I’m a homeschooling mom on a journey to embrace simplicity, uncover everyday joys, and bring glory to God in my daily life.  I’m excited and thankful for this series that Erin is doing and humbled to be a part of it.
While I can’t say I have figured this balancing act of life and motherhood out, I can say that God has been stirring my heart in several areas and leading me towards growth. I am going to explore four areas that have contributed to more balance and peace in my life: letting go of comparisons, embracing seasons, creating margin and having a vision.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”Theodore Roosevelt

For me, balance is a tricky word. So often when we balance things, we compare. Remember those balance scales we had back in grade school? I used one last year while teaching my little guy. We placed all kinds of things from matchbox cars to marshmallows in the little buckets and guessed which object weighed more. It was all about comparison. And often, we do that in our lives. We weigh our worth against the best we see in everyone else and find the scales tipped in their favor. 
Many of my struggles in finding balance were eliminated when I stopped looking to others. There are many women that inspire me. But it stops there. They inspire me, but they don’t define me. God made them unique just as He made me unique. That is something the devil wants us to forget. Personally speaking, blogs, Pinterest, and social media can often be a stumbling block the devil uses to confuse my heart and unsettle my peace. I have learned that when I start feeling insecure or overwhelmed rather than inspired by those things, I need to take a break from them completely, for days or even weeks, to refocus on…”whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” {Philippians 4:8}
Healing began when I realized that balance had more to do with peace in my life than measuring up. When we try to measure up, we are looking to others, some imaginary person we want to be, or ourselves -- and not to God. I like how The Message translation of Galatians 6:4 puts it:  "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
That last line especially convicts me.  I can’t do my creative best if I’m looking everywhere else but to God. I need to be still before God and ask Him to show me how my uniqueness can be used for His glory and then follow as He leads.

“Season by season, I watch Him amazed, in awe of the mystery of His perfect ways"            Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful
We all have seasons in our lives. In our motherhood experience and in our personal lives, there are many factors that contribute to the season we are in.
Right now, I’m in a homeschooling, motherhood centered season. There are other layers and seasons in my life, but that is a long-term season I am in. With that comes so much joy for me, but also a great deal of sacrifice. In light of this season, I’ve had to learn to say no to some things that I used to or really wanted to be a part of, which has been very difficult for me.  
If I’m not careful, a root of bitterness, selfishness, and longing for something outside of this season can grow in my heart and cause imbalance in my life. Sometimes I think about moms who get to meet up for coffee or playdates and I miss that. Other times I wish I had alone time or that I could go shopping by myself. And if I’m really honest, sometimes I miss having a job or volunteering and having someone recognize the things I do. But when those thoughts creep in, I’m learning to remind myself of the value and joys to be found in this season: morning Bible reading around the table, hearts beating for God // children who are best friends with each other and with me and my husband // a slowed down, simple life // learning and growing together // seeing each other’s shortcomings because we’re around each other all.the.time and being loved and loving in spite of them – such a picture of grace.
Now that I’m well into my thirties, I have lived through several seasons and have the gift of perspective. There have been many difficult winter seasons filled with grief, heartache, and uncertainty. And then they flowered into beautiful spring and summer seasons, made all the sweeter by the winter. What a joy to see the fruits of a summer season after the desolation of winter and the work of spring. The more seasons I live through, the more I am assured of God’s faithfulness in each one. What I’ve learned is that there is beauty to be found in every season. And even more beauty when I learn to fully embrace each season.

“Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow.”Ann Voskamp
Even when I am not comparing myself to others and I’m fully embracing the season I am in, I can struggle with balance because I am carrying too much on my plate.  When I live a hurried life, I don’t allow room for stillness, grace, and everyday beauty. It’s understandable to have a short season in life that’s especially demanding and without margin. I had a season like that this spring when my husband had several surgeries and I just had to push through it and know that it was only a short season. But I’ve found I can’t thrive there. It can’t be my normal.
Because we have chosen to live a simple life and allow room for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we have learned to say no to a lot of wonderful things for the sake of having white space in our lives.  It’s simply the choice we’ve made for our family. For us this means our kids are not part of clubs or sports groups, we aren’t in a homeschool co-op, and the kids and I spend a lot of time at home.
Additionally, I work to keep our homeschool simple and we spend only a couple hours in the morning with “sit down” studies. The same goes for menu planning and home management. I don’t have elaborate checklists, clip coupons or shop multiple stores. I really enjoy cooking but aim to keep our meals simple and in season. When I’m tempted to overcomplicate things, I remind myself to “keep it simple”.

“If you do not have a plan or a philosophy, then you will try to fit your life into other people’s plans. God has made each couple with the freedom to create their own family culture. The sooner you decide to embrace your own values, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses, the more you will become who God made you and your husband to be. Of course it requires faith to be yourself, to embrace your own ideals and family design. But living according to the voice of God’s Spirit, is always the way to freedom, joy and fulfillment.”  Sally Clarkson, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe.
This last area is the cornerstone of my balanced life – having a vision or philosophy for our family. Until the last couple of years, this is not something my husband and I ever really talked about. Sometimes we prayed for direction and talked things over, but none of it was very intentional. Until we decided to homeschool, the thought of being intentional in our family philosophy had never occurred to us. We were a bit like drivers without a destination.

While we still need to grow in this area and be better about writing down our goals and philosophy, it is an area that we are beginning to be intentional in talking about. We are learning to assess our lives, our choices, and the direction of our family and make changes as needed. We now have a goal in mind and the decisions we make need to be in line with that goal. Our goal is unique to our family dynamic and there is so much freedom in that. In the past I knew we needed to change things, but I didn’t know where to start. Having a vision gives me the freedom and makes it easier to say no and let go of things.  

I have a lot to learn, but I take hope in knowing, by the grace of God, I’m not where I was. I have traded in stress and insecurity for peace and more of God’s daily leading. I want to close with one of my favorite scriptures. I pray it will encourage you wherever you are in your own journey.
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].”
Hebrews 12:1-2a, Amplified Bible

{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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